For 2019, it’s time to look at the quality of the air we breathe – and do something about it, if needed.
One way is with cloud-connected Airthinx. It’s a device and app that monitor and deliver information about air quality to end-users in commercial, industrial and residential spaces.
“It brings a new dimension to health and wellness,” says Dr. Vasileios Nasis CEO of Netronix Group, from which Airthinx is a spinoff. “It measures the nine parameters of air quality that are what an industrial hygienist looks at.”
Among them are particulates, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, poisonous gasses, temperature, humidity and air pressure. “When combined they can be very dangerous,” he says. “Temperature and humidity can mean mold – and temperature and gasses can mean fire.”
Airthinx is effective in any indoor environment, whether home, office, hospital or school. “It’s even being considered by major airlines,” he says. “Air quality on aircraft is crucial – pilots may fall asleep and passengers may get sick.”
In buildings, it’s a solution that doesn’t change the quality of air itself, but that monitors it and communicates with HVAC or management systems to improve the air we breathe.
“Instead of the typical thermostat, you can put in a smart thermostat and Airthinx can communicate with it and activate it or deactivate it – or with a humidifier, dehumidifier or purifier to change the air as needed,” he says. “It continually measures air quality and gives feedback and activates the unit to make the air quality the most comfortable and healthiest possible.”
It also can be provided by insurance companies to clients with asthma or other respiratory ailments, to improve the air quality in their homes. “It’s cheaper to provide them with Airthinx than to have them go to the E.R.,” he says.
Architects, too, are finding the new product useful, as they design homes that are more and more airtight. “It makes a difference, day and night, with good air circulation and reduced carbon dioxide,” he says
The device is simplicity itself when it comes to installation and use. Plug it in and a blue LED strip indicates good air quality. Green means moderate, and red means poor. An app links up to a website where trends can be monitored and data stored.
Pricing on the device runs $49 monthly for a two-year minimum lease, or $699 for an outright purchase.
For more, go here.
Inside air quality is a growing concern to many people, and a part of the “Internet of Things” that has recently heated up is the monitoring of that quality. Today we’re looking at Airthinx IAQ, a professionally-oriented air quality monitoring system that includes a hardware monitor with a built-in 3G cellular modem for connectivity, a web-based dashboard that can be used to monitor multiple homes or offices, and an iOS app for on-the-go insights.
Inside air quality is a growing concern to many people, and a part of the “Internet of Things” that has recently heated up is the monitoring of that quality. Today we’re looking at Airthinx IAQ, a professionally-oriented air quality monitoring system that includes a hardware monitor with a built-in 3G cellular modem for connectivity, a web-based dashboard that can be used to monitor multiple homes or offices, and an iOS app for on-the-go insights.
To begin with, let’s talk about the actual monitoring device. It’s a compact wall-mounted box approximately 4.13 x 2.5 x 1.13 inches in size, powered by a dedicated USB 5V power supply that plugs into the bottom. Once attached to the wall and plugged in, the IAQ monitor requires no other setup. When purchased, the monitor’s serial number is connected to your account and the device begins sending out air quality information the moment it’s connected to power.
There’s a LED strip near the top of the device that shows general air quality by glowing green, yellow or red. During the entire time I tested the Airthinx IAQ monitor, it went between yellow — indicating moderate air quality (apparently below 90 on a scale between 0 and 100) — and red, which indicates poor air quality. Turning off visual alerts using the app turned the LED strip to blue, and there’s also a setting for device status that can be used to turn the LED strip completely off — useful if the IAQ monitor is being installed in a bedroom.
The Airthinx website dashboard (see image above) is quite clean and easy to read, and provides detailed minute-by-minute tracking of air quality for any site being monitored. With a click on any of the air quality factors being monitored, they appear or disappear from the chart. It’s also possible to view the data as a table and download the data in a .csv file format for further analysis.
It’s also possible to set up alerts with the system to send an email to a system subscriber. For example, I set up an alert for “poor air quality” whenever AQ is less than 70.
Likewise, there’s an iOS app (iPhone only) that can be used to track air quality when you’re away from a computer. It’s quite well written, easy to use, and fast. Indicators that are red and yellow show when a particular factor is either borderline or outright poor. For example, the app showed a red dot near the humidity reading. Well, I live in Colorado where low humidity is quite common, so the 19.2% reading is nothing that I’m particularly worried about.
Set up of the system is incredibly simple thanks to the built-in cellular modem. There’s absolutely no need to connect the Airthinx IAQ monitor to your Wi-Fi network. However, I did run into some issues in setting up an account with Airthinx as I have a non-standard email address using the appleworld.today domain. Once I changed to a more standard email address, everything worked well. There was also a bit of a discrepancy between what worked for login with the web-based dashboard and the app. The Airthinx support team provided almost immediate support via online chat.
Compared to my other air quality monitoring device — the $199 AWAIR 2nd edition (read review here) , the Airthinx device is quite a bit more “industrial looking”. The AWAIR comes in a wood case that is attractive, it has a display on the front so users don’t need to look at a web dashboard or app to monitor the air quality.
However, we’re really talking about two different markets here. Airthinx is obviously pointing this toward those who wish to monitor multiple sites at once. For a facilities manager with a large company with multiple offices, it would be useful to install Airthinx IAQ monitors at those locations to keep an eye on the air quality to prevent employee lawsuits due to sick building syndrome. AWAIR is oriented towards those who are concerned about air quality in the home.
Airthinx also provides a much more complete picture of air quality, with twelve separate factors being monitored on the dashboard: VOC (volatile organic chemicals), PM10 (particulate matter between 2.5 and 10 micrometers in diameter), PM 2.5 (fine particles between 2.5 micrometers or less), two other particulate matter readings (PM1 and PM), temperature in both °F and °C, a composite air quality index (AQ), humidity, CH2O (formaldehyde, a common toxin), CO2 (carbon dioxide level), and air pressure.
It’s fascinating to watch the changes in the various factors during the day. For example, the PM readings always spike shortly after one of my cats visits the litter box, an indication that has me switching to a more dust-free litter. Temperature, air pressure and humidity of course fluctuate as the day passes, but what could have caused a sudden bump in formaldehyde three times during the last week? A quick look at weekly readings in the app indicated that these bumps coincided with cooking in my house.
Of course, monitoring moderate to poor air quality is of no use if you don’t do something about it. In my case, I’ve decided to add cat-safe plants throughout the house that can help trap and eliminate toxins, do the aforementioned change to dust-free cat litter, and — when weather permits — open windows during cooking.
One oddity that showed up has to do with the device’s location awareness. I may be wrong, but it appears that the IAQ doesn’t use GPS, instead relying on either cellular or Wi-Fi-based location. As a result, the device consistently showed its location as outside of the house across the street. It would be more useful if the dashboard could use a set street address as a location, or use GPS location.
Pricing on the device runs $49 monthly for a two-year minimum lease, or $699 for an outright purchase, both of which include the built-in 3G coverage. Enterprise plans are also available with customized service plans, volume discounts, consulting, customized APIs, and more.
The Airthinx IAQ is a powerful and easily setup air monitor that is perfect for facility managers who wish to keep a close eye on air quality in buildings that they manage. While the price of the device is somewhat prohibitive to the average user, the IAQ provides much more data that can be acquired through a less expensive device and offers flexibility in sending alerts.
Apple World Today Rating (Out Of 5 Stars): ★★★★★
On Nov. 9th the deadly California wildfires broke out. In Northern California, the Camp Fire lasted through the 25th, claiming 153,336 acres, 85 people, 18,733 structures, and 13,972 homes. Near LA, the Woolsey Fire lasting 3 days less, spanned 96,949 acres, causing 3 deaths, and destroyed 1,500 structures.
Right now, there is no surplus of invisible particulates in the air, but rather a black fog so thick it ranks the most dirtiest city in the world, exceeding China and India. Particulate Matter can originate from combustion, as is in the case of the California Wildfires. Wood smoke, for example, contains some of the same toxic chemicals that city pollution does. Forest fires burn woody materials from forests and homes, consume homes’ contents, which may contain plastics, petroleum products, chemicals and metals producing thick plumes of smoke containing high levels of particles and gases toxic to humans. This kind of smoke exposure outdoors leads to increased emergency room visits.
Officials from Los Angeles to North California continue to urge residents to stay indoors and wear masks if they have to go outside. Many people who had somewhere to go, left their homes. The Raiders have now cancelled outdoor practice twice, citing unhealthy air quality.
Invisible particulates, PM 2.5 microns in size are such a dangerous air particle because its size allows its to be breathed in, where it enters the bloodstream, affecting all types of vital organs. The smaller the particle, the worse it is and the more likely it is to increase infection rates and cause respiratory illnesses. To give an idea of just how invisible these air particles can be, compare a human hair 50-70 microns in diameter, with particulate matter 10, 2.5 and 1.0 microns in diameter.
According to the real-time data from an Airthinx inside a home in northern California, levels of particulates rose well beyond “safe” levels [ the EPA recommends PM 2.5 levels stay below 15 ųg/m3 per hour] to dangerous levels more than 10 times the limit, 121 ųg/m3. Breathing air contaminated with particulates, for 30 minutes a day for 14 days is enough to start noticing health problems. And what’s even more interesting, is that cooking indoors can cause PM to spike to 300 ųg/m3, almost 20 times the EPA safe limits.
For the first time, anyone can have access to air pollution data anytime, anywhere from the web, iPad or phone, so they are best equipped to make real-time decisions about their health. Airthinx is revolutionizing the Indoor Air industry with a low-cost professional air quality device, providing continuous, accurate & precise air quality monitoring at room level of 9 pollutants (PM 1.0, PM 2.5 and PM 10, Carbon Dioxide, Formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds, Temperature, Pressure & Humidity). It’s simple to install, works directly out of the box, and has built-in 3G and wifi, so it is always connected to the cloud and collecting data.
For more information visit airthinx.io.
The future of buildings is smart. We discuss 10 key trends that will shape the discussion around smart buildings going forward.
With the cost of connected sensors and cloud computing continuously falling, IoT devices that intelligently monitor and control the operations of a building are becoming more and more common.
It is estimated that there will be as much as 10 billion devices installed in buildings by 2020, making it one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. As a result, the smart building market is expected to grow from a size of $8,5 billion in 2016 to around $58 billion globally in 2022.
But what are the actual implications for the real estate industry when it comes to the smart building revolution?
Here are 10 key trends that will change the way buildings are run in the coming years, helping organizations to save energy and costs, deliver better occupant experiences and reach higher property values.
Given that most of us spend more than 90% of our time inside, good indoor air quality is fundamental for our health and productivity. A Harvard study found that “people who work in well-ventilated offices with below-average levels of indoor pollutants and CO2 have significantly higher cognitive functioning scores.”
This is why buildings will increasingly be equipped with wireless sensors that monitor CO2 levels and harmful small particles, sending out warnings and adjusting the ventilation if needed. And they won’t just monitor the inside. In countries with strong pollution, it is just as important to measure the quality of the outside air that comes in through the ventilation. Smart systems can indicate what filters need to be replaced and decide to turn the system off, should the outside air quality be critically bad.
One of the biggest revolutions in how we light up our buildings has been the invention of LED lighting roughly thirty years. LED lights consume less than 80% the electricity of traditional bulbs and have ten times the lifespan. Still, LEDs today make up only 10 percent of all lighting systems, so many buildings have an easy opportunity to save energy and costs just by switching bulbs.
One of the biggest lighting trends for buildings going forward will be smart lighting that adjusts to the preferences of occupants (also called human-centric lighting). These smart lighting systems can mimic the natural light progression of daylight to follow our circadian rhythm or change their intensity according to different occupant needs. In an office, brighter lights after lunch may be used to help workers focus, while soft lights in hospitals can help patients relax.
Our company picks: Philips / Zumtobel Lighting / Fagerhult
Connected IoT devices installed throughout the building make it easier for facility managers to keep their building safe. The most important of these devices are cameras and access control systems like badge readers, making it possible to spot unwanted visitors and grant permissions to visiting employees.
And there are additional security benefits to IoT devices inside buildings. For example, they can help building managers find out if certain doors are consistently being kept open or if an alarm has falsely gone off. A truly intelligent security system might even be able to communicate to other systems that certain employees have left the building, prompting the shutting off of lights.
Our company picks: ISGUS / Kisi / Conlan
The smarter a building becomes, the more it becomes exposed to cyber attacks. The growing presence of internet-connected devices inside a building makes it easier for outsiders to place malware, steal data or hack into systems. Gartner Institute actually predicts that by the end of 2018, almost 20% of all smart buildings will have suffered from some form of digital attack.
Cybersecurity will be a dominant topic for the real estate industry going forward. Building operators must stay ahead of potential threats and take action to bolster their cybersecurity, such as improving authorization controls and implementing stronger data encryption, as well as working closely together with their IT department.
Our company picks: Intel / Siemens / Schneider Electric
Smart buildings give more control of the building inside the hands of its occupants. People can now closely interact with a building by adjusting temperatures, booking meeting rooms or changing the lighting, all from one central place and according to their preferences. This creates a much more personal and satisfying experience (like in a hotel), but can have energy-saving benefits too, for instance when meeting rooms automatically turn off lights when nothing is booked.
At the same time, a smart building can enable easy ways for tenants to send feedback to the facility managers, for example when something is broken or needs to be reordered.
Our company picks: Comfy / 75F / Honeywell
Intelligent systems are not just employed where people live and work, but the surrounding infrastructure too. One example of this are parking spaces in and around the building, where there is lots of potential to make things smart.
Cameras and sensors can detect what parking spots are free and send this information to commuters, reducing extra laps and unnecessary fuel consumption. Ideally, this information is shared between multiple systems, so that workers also get parking spot data from public streets. Other possibilities include: Allowing visitors to reserve parking spaces in advance or automatic online payment systems for frequent users.
Our company picks: Intel / Siemens / Parkeon
Many companies understand that the health and comfort of their employees is a key differentiator, influencing productivity and workplace satisfaction. The consideration of how a building promotes the wellness of its occupants will therefore be a major trend for the future.
One sign of this is the growing importance of the world’s first building certification focused exclusively on human health and wellness, the WELL Building Standard (launched in 2014). It rates buildings along specific categories like air, water, fitness or mind, requiring for example that offices are not too loud, that there’s on-site child care and natural elements like plants are present. WELL is closely partnering with the sustainable building certification LEED, so that buildings can get certified as healthy and green at the same time.
Our company picks: WELL / Fitwel / Reset
The biggest cost during a building’s life cycle goes to its maintenance, which ultimately ends up exceeding the construction costs. Smart technology enables facility managers to save maintenance costs here and completely change the way they manage their building, by switching from a reactive to a predictive maintenance model.
Sensors placed around machinery like pumps or heaters can be programmed to detect critical levels of noise, vibration or heat. Above a certain threshold, a warning is sent and the error can be fixed before it escalates. This type of maintenance based on needs rather than scheduled intervals has been shown to be 3 to 9 times cheaper.
One specific case can be an elevator that sends data on how well a door is closing. If predictive algorithms notice that more force is needed to close the door (for example because of dust) a repair request triggers.
Our company picks: Johnson Controls / Schneider Electric / Building IQ
Everything that goes on inside a building can come together in “Building Management Systems” (BMS), computer-based systems to monitor and control services like lighting, heating and ventilation. Such systems in themselves are nothing new and have been around for decades. But while they were highly fragmented and independently operated before, a modern BMS makes all the building’s operations visible in one place.
This type of system constantly collects all the available building data, processes it through an analytics layer and helps facility managers make decisions. Like everything else inside the building, these systems are becoming truly smart, by making recommendations and allowing managers to react much more proactively to potential problems.
Technology is disrupting real estate industry in the planning and construction stage too. One of the most notable developments here has been the rise of Building Information Modelling (BIM), a new planning and working method where a digital 3D model of the project is created before actual construction. In the BIM method, architects, planners and subcontractors all collaborate to build a full virtual model of the building, which makes the planning more efficient and transparent and later saves time and errors.
Our company picks: Honeywell / Schneider Electric / United Technologies
Investors, tenants and operators today are faced with an almost overwhelming amount of options to make their building smarter. To manage costs, many might choose to only upgrade some systems at first and gradually upgrade the rest. Similar to other sectors however, another purchase method is becoming more popular in the building industry: bundling.
By bundling different smart technologies and buying them at once, companies achieve cost and time savings, as well as benefits from products working in synergy. Bundling can just as well be used for retrofitting old buildings and has shown to enable cost savings of up to 15%. Today, there are bespoke consulting companies who make recommendations on what systems to buy together, even offering as-a-service pricing models for smart systems to save upfront costs.
Our company picks: Sparkfund / Gridpoint
BusinessWire — Global Smart Building Market Outlook
emerald insight — What is a Smart Building?
New York Times — How Healthy is Your Office?
Smart Buildings Magazine — The impact of the internet of things on buildings
the institute — How LED Systems Will Drastically Improve Energy Efficiency
Breathing air contaminated with particulates, for 30 minutes a day for 14 days is enough to start noticing health problems.
Moms: For expecting moms in early to mid pregnancy, a new study shows the fetal thyroid gland is susceptible to changes in airborne particulates, affecting the thyroid development in utero.
Children & Multiple Sclerosis: According to the Journal Annals of Clinical and Translation Neurology, pollutants including fine particulate matter are associated with higher odds of developing pediatric MS, increasing the risk of the disease by 3.85-to-10.1 fold, depending on the pollutant and its concentration in the air. Children and teenagers at are risk, whose first clinical attacks occur before the age of 18. The study went on to identify urban areas with increased levels of air pollution with increased odds of developing MS. People who developed pediatric-onset MS lived near sites that produced a higher load of air pollutants (81,000 tons). This is because particulate matter is created from combustion through industry and transportation sources. Particulate matter could stimulate the immune response to mis- target the brain and spinal cord, or directly enter and cause damage to these tissues.
Diabetes: Studies show the link between particulate matter and diabetes, which starts with exposure of 2.4 μg/m3, or micrograms per cubic meter of air (even though the EPA limit of PM 2.5 is 12 μg/m3). PM is so harmful because it is so small and can contain toxic metals. The size allows it to penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream, and circulate to different organs causing inflammation and even insulin resistance. When the insulin resistance becomes severe, the pancreas becomes unable to pump out enough insulin to compensate, and diabetes kicks in. In the study, 21 percent of people exposed to 5 -10 μg/m3 of particulate matter developed diabetes, and 24 percent of people exposed to 12 μg/m3 of particulate matter developed diabetes.
Kidney Disease: Long-term exposure to Particulate Matter 2.5 is also now considered a major risk factor for the development of chronic kidney disease. Environmental pollutants like PM 2.5 have a direct impact on the heart, lungs, and blood circulation, which is first sensed by the kidneys. Since the kidney’s primary function is to pump and filter out toxins from the blood, the inability to do so increases the risk of membranous nephropathy (an immune disorder of the kidneys that can lead to kidney failure) and rapid decline in renal function.
For the first time, anyone can have access to air pollution data anytime, anywhere from the web, iPad or phone, so they are best equipped to make real-time decisions about their health. Airthinx is revolutionizing the Indoor Air industry with a low-cost professional air quality device, providing accurate & precise monitoring at room level of 9 air pollutants (PM 1.0, PM 2.5 and PM 10, Carbon Dioxide, Formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds, Temperature, Pressure & Humidity). It’s simple to install, works directly out of the box, and has built-in 3G and wifi, so it is always connected to the cloud and collecting data.
For more information visit airthinx.io.
Take a closer look at the leading sustainable HVACR products.
[Photo: Courtesy of Dandelion]
Dandelion Air is an all-in-one residential heating, air conditioning, and hot water system designed by Dandelion. It’s four times more efficient than a conventional furnace and nearly twice as efficient as a traditional AC system. Dandelion Air taps into the ground as a heat source and distributes heating and cooling through ductwork and vents. It features a multi-speed fan and compressor for quiet, efficient operations. The system is connected to the cloud for real-time performance monitoring. Safe, low maintenance, and fuel-free, it eliminates the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and boosts IAQ. It’s available in four sizes and has a life expectancy of more than 20 years. dandelionenergy.com
[Photo: Courtesy of eFlow USA]
Constant airflow regulators by eFlow USA precisely control airflow into or out of a given space. The self-regulating, adjustable devices optimize energy efficiency, minimize stack effect, and eliminate over-ventilation. The product offers automatic air balancing and better airflow distribution for healthier indoor air quality in residential and commercial buildings. You can also customize the airflow for each area of the building by simply adjusting the regulator with a screwdriver. The product is bidirectional, meaning the valve can be flipped to change from exhaust to supply. It is available in various diameter sizes, including the smallest size on the market today—3 inches wide. eflowusa.net
[Photo: Courtesty of KE2 Therm Solutions]
This refrigeration controller by KE2 Therm Solutions incorporates new features requested by original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers. The Evap OEM provides efficient controls and communications that can help save 15 to 50% more energy than traditional mechanically controlled systems. It eliminates unnecessary defrosts usually linked to timed based alternatives, which lessens energy usage and preserves product integrity. The controller maximizes energy efficiency with reduced compressor run time as a result of its shorter defrosts. It also gets rid of excessive temperature fluctuations and ice formation on floors and ceilings. And you can access controls and monitor system operations both onsite and remotely, giving you more flexibility. ke2therm.com
[Photo: Courtesy of Comfy]
Comfy’s intuitive workplace app connects people, places, and building systems for improved comfort and energy efficiency. By integrating machine learning and smart automation, Comfy App has helped reduce HVAC energy use by 20%. Through the app, users can make their environment cooler or warmer on-demand for optimal comfort. And their temperature preferences can be automatically applied over time, too. Users can adjust lighting in open spaces or conference rooms and alter the schedule if they’re working late. They can book meeting rooms, submit requests, and flag issues as well. The app provides a platform to better understand building performance and energy consumption through data insights. comfyapp.com
[Photo: Courtesy of Weil-McLain]
The Evergreen high-efficiency boiler from Weil-McLain is a flexible model ideal for small to medium-sized commercial projects. It is low NOx (less than 20 PPM) and has a high combustion efficiency of 96.5%. The boiler allows up to 24 programmable zones with no additional control panel needed, which helps reduce installation costs. The Evergreen maintains optimal energy efficiency through lead-lag rotation and balanced heat loading across an entire network of boilers. It achieves ENERGY STAR standards with an AFUE rating of 95%. Available in both floor and wall-mount models, the Evergreen features a durable heat exchanger and a user-friendly interface, along with minimal maintenance requirements. weil-mclain.com
[Photo: Courtesy of Armacell]
Armacell’s ArmaFix EcoLight offers a greener way to strengthen your pipes. The lightweight, durable pipe support features a PET core made of 100% post-consumer recycled materials. In traditional pipe hanger applications, pipes aren’t thermally isolated from the pipe brackets. This can cause thermal bridging and condensation, which leads to corrosion and energy losses. The EcoLight prevents thermal bridging by isolating the pipe and bracket from each other, supporting a long-term insulation system with improved thermal protection and condensation control. Self-sealing and simple to install, the EcoLight also has load-bearing properties to ensure insulation material isn’t crushed or damaged by the weight of the pipe. armacell.us
[Photo: Courtesy of Johnson Controls]
The new GLAS smart thermostat by Johnson Controls makes homes more connected. Compatible with many smart devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, GLAS offers hands-free temperature controls and important data insights. It’s the first smart thermostat of its kind to use a translucent OLED touchscreen display. GLAS adapts to your schedule while intelligently maintaining a comfortable environment and enhancing energy efficiency. In addition to refined temperature controls, the smart thermostat provides continuous run-time reports, a seven-day record of energy savings, and customizable scheduling. GLAS also monitors indoor air quality, including humidity, VOCs, and carbon dioxide. It intuitively operates ventilation equipment when IAQ falls below moderate levels. glas.johnsoncontrols.com
[Photo: Courtesy of Airthix]
The airthinx IAQ device by Airthinx is the first low-cost IoT monitor that delivers real-time, industrial-level air quality measurements for commercial and residential spaces. It features a cutting-edge processor, artificial intelligence, and smart sensor technology. Always linked to the cloud, the portable monitor offers data access via the web or the airthinx app. At a glance, you can see your color-coded air quality score: good (green), moderate (yellow), or poor (red). The airthinx monitors carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, humidity, VOCs, barometric pressure, and particulate matter like dust, fungi, bacteria, pollen, and exhaust. You can mount it on any wall, and it works immediately with no need for configuration. airthinx.io
[Photo: Courtesy of Hashizaki America]
Hoshizaki America’s new line of undercounter ice makers produces the company’s signature crescent-shaped ice with an energy-efficient edge. Their unique KMEdge design offers a faster harvest cycle, a durable stainless steel exterior, and maximized heat exchange. The CycleSaver feature makes ice in half the time, increasing the equipment life span. The greenest of the new line is the ENERGY STAR–certified undercounter ice maker (model KM-115BAJ), which uses 15% less electricity and 11% less water than former models. This self-contained model with built-in storage can produce up to 116 pounds of ice daily. At a height of 39 inches with six-inch legs, this front-vented ice maker fits perfectly in tight spaces.hoshizakiamerica.com
[Photo: Courtesy of Samsung HVAC]
Samsung HVAC’s DVM chiller combines the benefits of VRF and chiller systems. Connected to multiple indoor units via water piping, this air-cooled chiller delivers cooling and heating to individual zones, which helps save energy and improve occupant comfort. Depending on zonal requirements, you can combine modules in numerous configurations to expand the chiller’s capacity. Its modular design and compact size reduces the time, cost, and labor needed for transportation and installation. The DVM also features a BLDC inverter compressor with flash injection technology and an evaporative condenser. With advanced programming options, you can choose from various system operation modes to ensure high performance. samsunghvac.com
IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Airthinx, Inc., a provider of intelligent air quality technology for healthy indoor spaces, today announced the expansion of its signature product, the Airthinx IAQ Device, to include integration with Nest, EcoBee and other systems.
Launched in 2017, the Airthinx IAQ was the first low-cost professional instrument on the market delivering real-time continuous air quality monitoring with the accuracy and precision of reference instruments, allowing the most comprehensive overview of room level conditions in any built environment.
The 3G & wifi enabled smart device monitors 9 key indicators of air quality utilizing built-in sensors including PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, Temperature, Humidity, & Pressure.
The results are in: now anyone concerned with their health stands to benefit from never before seen quantitative information and analytics, optimizing decision-making in homes, ensuring the safest environment, with access to data anytime, anywhere for building managers and residents via the Airthinx App or Professional Web Console.
What differentiates Airthinx from “competitors” is the ease of adding new features for greater functionality. Unlike other devices, Airthinx is backed by a robust, full-scale IoT platform, allowing connectivity to any system, whether temperature and humidity controls, fresh air ventilation systems, and air cleaning systems. In other words, it’s now easier than ever to take measurable action against poor air quality.
Dr. Vasileios Nasis, founder of Netronix Inc., the IoT Platform powering up the Airthinx, says of the new integration: “The most common question about indoor air quality is ‘What am I supposed to do about it.’ Of course the first step is knowing, but then what? Now with Nest, Ecobee and other leading integrators in the smart home ecosystem, the Airthinx communicates directly with systems, providing data and instructions about what to activate at any given time, improving indoor air quality conditions, providing energy savings, while also increasing the longevity and performance of maintenance systems.”
Good indoor air quality conditions not only protect the health of occupants, but also protect valuables inside homes, whether artwork, luxury items, or your four-legged friends.
Measuring nine environmental conditions, IoT-enabled Airthinx integrates with home automation to optimize indoor air quality (IAQ) for wellness, productivity and energy savings.
Yet the product category has largely evaded the home-technology channel. In the past, only Aprilaire – a provider of smart thermostats and IAQ solutions – has made a concerted effort to educate the channel on the benefits of monitoring and controlling humidity, airborne pollutants, and other environmental conditions.
[Check out more CEDIA 2018 Finds]
Airthinx is a $699 IoT device that monitors nine environmental conditions, including temperature, humidity, gases, and particle pollution (PM). It has an onboard processor and pairs with a cloud-based (Netronix) AI engine to perform real-time monitoring and historical analysis.
The device communicates in a number of ways – cellular, W-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, LoRa (Low Power Wide Area Networks, or LPWAN) – and the company provides APIs for third-party integration.
In fact, the company claims, “Airthinx is designed with integration and interoperability in mind.” Developer tools enable pros to organize data in meaningful ways, and manage devices to optimize air quality based on Airthinx reports.
Integrated with thermostats, humidifiers/dehumidifiers, fans, ventilation systems and other IAQ controls enables an ecosystem to regulate itself using data from Airthinx.
The product integrates directly through services such as SAP, Nest ad IFTTT.
* Airthinx provides actionable IAQ data through user-friendly app.
Even without integration, the data alone – accurate to within 5 percent – is valuable for users to “make timely informed decisions about corrective action,” the company notes.
Residents can simply avoid the home when airborne pollutants register high, change their cleaning or painting products if VOCs reach unhealthy levels, or call a pro if Airthinx data suggests a gas leak or mold.
Airthinx recommends its solutions for a variety of applications, from homes to hospitals. Indoor air pollutants can affect vital human organs like the lungs, heart and brain. Certainly, IAQ monitoring is valuable for those with respiratory or pulmonary disease, but it can also be worthwhile for general wellness and productivity.
According to the World Health Organization, one-third of cardiovascular diseases can be linked to
indoor and outdoor pollution, while 29% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths are tied to poor indoor air quality.
The air has not always been my friend.
When I was 15, tiny allergens discovered my nose and lungs, making a nest and infecting me with a chronic runny nose, red eyes and borderline asthma. I learned a longtime ago that the great outdoors wasn’t so great for me and acclimated myself to indoor spaces, closed windows and central air.
* It’s breathing in the same air you breathe, but with better analytics
But what if my chosen climate and controlled atmosphere is also my gaseous enemy? Is the air I breath indoors free of dust, pollen, and even carcinogens? I mean, it should be, right?
According to a 2016 study, the air quality indoors, where we spend 90% of our time can, thanks to smoke, invisible gasses, chemicals leaching into the air from appliances and our carpets, and mold and dust spore, be worse than the air we breathe outside (though I imagine this depends on where you live).
Great. Wonderful. What am I supposed to do, hold my breath when I’m in my house? If I take, on average, 23,000 breaths a day, how can I ensure that the max number of those are taken in safe-to-breath environments?
Before I get ahead of myself, though, I need to know if there is a problem with the air quality in my home.
A few months ago, I heard from Airthinx. They make a tiny home sensor box, also called Airthinx, capable of measuring nine different air-quality attributes, including Formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds, Particulates, carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. All of them combine to tell you your overall air quality (AQ). While Airthinx didn’t know anything about my free-floating indoor atmosphere concerns, the company offered to let me try one out for a little while.
For all the sensors packed inside the roughly hand-sized device, Airthinx is an attractive, slightly inscrutable device. There’s no screen or buttons on the mostly plastic body. It has a single micro USB port for power (it ships with a plug and lengthy power cord). On the back is a removable square of plastic complete with two tiny levels and a pair of screw holes for use when attaching Airthinx to the wall.
Setup is relatively simple. You start by registering on the environet.io site. I don’t know why the site isn’t also called Airthinx and, yes, I agree that it’s a little confusing.
* This back rotates and pops off so you can attach it to the wall and then attach the Airthinx with a twist.
After this I plugged in the device, downloaded the free Airthinx app and logged in. Airthinx indicates it’s on with a thin band of LED lights that are orange when it’s offline and blue when it’s connected.
Because Airthinx comes with a built-in T-Mobile 3G cell radio, it’s online as soon as you plug it in. The air monitor is basically stuffed with as many radios as your typical smartphone. In addition to cell, it has Wi-Fi, Mesh network capability (so you can have a group of Airthinxs come up with a combined air quality reading for a whole office) Bluetooth, and even GPS.
My device came pre-registered to me, so the app automatically found it. When I checked it a few hours later, I had my first reading.
The news was not good.
The App’s home screen shows an overall Air Quality Rating at the top. Green is good, orange is Moderate and red is Poor. I was staring at a red reading and wondering if I should get everyone out of my house ASAP. But why was my air quality poor?
As I looked at the eight metrics listed, searching for a culprit, I realized I wasn’t sure of what each measurement meant. I could see the reason for my poor AQ rating, a 69 out of 100, overall. That much was clear, but below that were labels and numbers that meant little-to-nothing to me. I had 1093 ppm, 0.075 mg/m2 CH2O, and 2 ug/m to the 3rd. I wondered if I should call a scientist for help.
* These are actual readings for my house. The one at the left is the very first reading I saw. Panic ensued.
Next to some readings were small orange dots, indicating problem areas. I tapped on one and saw a fever chart for the reading. These charts default to the current ready, but will also show you yesterday’s activity and a week of air trends. I like that. However, in the mobile app, I could only view one metric at a time. On the Web console, I can overlay up to four. In the app, I saw a spike in the CH2O and VOC readings at 11 AM that day.
An Airthinx company rep who could access my data explained that CH2O was formaldehyde and VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. The former comes from, among other things, adhesives and glues in furniture and the latter is found in cleaning products and sprays. A lightbulb went off in my head.
In preparation for the beach that morning, I’d sprayed myself with sunblock while standing in our shower. I usually do it outside but thought this would be more convenient.
That spray could have caused the temporary spike.
After that incident, I noticed that my air quality remained good. There was the occasional Moderate air quality (AQ) reading for a temperature rise or extremely high humidity, but, overall, my air did not appear to be killing me.
Over the next few weeks, I moved the Airthinx monitor around from room-to-room and floor to floor. The biggest changes I noticed were in the CO2 readings. Carbon dioxide is what humans exhale and when I put the Airthinx in my basement, away from most of our activity, CO2 levels dropped significantly. I could also see them spike when my mother-in-law, brother and nephew visited. More people equals more CO2.
Most studies show that the air in our homes and buildings is bad for us but when I put Airthinx outside, overall air-quality reading quickly dropped to moderate, though this was mostly due to the rise in temperature and humidity.
* Underneath each air metric is a nice fever chart where you can view current, yesterday and a week of trends.
I wondered how my home air quality compared to other users, but even though Airthinx stores all its air quality data in the cloud, it doesn’t offer an anonymized view of other users, locations, or even averages across states. I just want to know if my air is better or worse than everybody else’s.
Airthinx claims that all this data and insight into not just overall air quality, but specific metrics impacting the whole can help me adjust habits to improve my air quality. In some ways, they’re right. I now know that spraying something indoors can have a brief deleterious impact on my AQ.
On the other hand, the app is too confusing and offers little guidance beyond “you’re breathing bad air.” Some consumer-friendly verbiage and a few common-sense tips for each metric would go a long way toward making this a useful home device.
* The Web interface seems geared more toward businesses that could deploy dozens of pricey Airthinx devices across the enterprise.
I had some connectivity issues with the T-Mobile network. 30% of the time I tried to check my air quality, the Airthinx was offline. I could change my network settings to Wi-Fi, but I have to do that through the Web interface, which makes no sense to me.
My other concern is the price. This little gadgets costs $699 or $49 a month with a 24-month contract, which is almost $1,200. I get that Airthinx stuffed this device full of sensors and radios, but that is a lot of money for a “Good AQ” reading. If Airthinx improves the software and lowers the price to more consumer friendly-levels ($299 and $12 a month for 24 months), they might have a winner here.
After all, what’s more important than the life-giving air we breathe?
Recently, I talked a lot about the importance of indoor air quality and why it is so important to keep an eye on it. If you didn’t read it yet, feel free to take a look at them (IAQ & VOC vs CO2). Today, I want to show you, what you can actually do about it. It is important to be aware of the danger, but without preventive measures, it’s not very helpful. So, in the following you will see a list of products & services which take care of you and your indoor environment. This list will be continued in the next few days in separate blog posts. So, stay tuned!
…and they are right to be so. If you think about it – definitely makes sense. In average, adults spend eight hours per day in the office – that’s one third of your day. Being exposed to bad air for such a long time can affect your health and productivity. 720 degrees prevents that, by offering air quality measurements for your company’s indoor environment.
* All important factors influencing your well-being
720 degrees takes all important factors influencing your well-being into account. With their cloud solution, the company is able to see real-time particle flows and notifies the customer only when necessary. Productivity is much more likely to increase and employees (as well as employers) do not feel exhausted all day due to poor indoor air quality conditions. Oh, and they also take noise levels into account, which also can have an effect on your well-being.
Want to find out more? Click here and dive into the world of enhanced indoor environment quality!
Are you thinking about creating a product which is able to detect air quality? Bosch Sensortec is producing sensors for the consumer electronic market – and they are pretty good at it. Mainly focusing on smartphones, smartwatches, headsets and earables, Sensortec, with their new gas sensor, also addresses IoT devices. It’s 3x3mm small with a height of ~0.9mm. It sports a gas sensors, as well as sensors for temperature, humidity and barometric pressure inside the same package.
* Retrieved from: Bosch Sensortec GmbH, 2018
Let’s focus on the gas sensor. It detects all kinds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Due to its size, it basically fits in every device there is. It constantly monitors the air around you with high accuracy and it seems like they developed their own Index for Air Quality – which makes sense, since the average customer probably doesn’t know if a 150.000 Ω gas resistance is good or bad. However, I don’t want to bore you with the details and specs – although, if you want to know more, check out their website and the datasheet!
What this sensor can do is up to you! With the detection of VOCs, the sensor is able to fulfill several use cases. Bosch provides the following list of examples for applications:
– Air quality measurement – Personalized weather station – Context awareness, e.g. skin moisture detection, room change detection – Fitness monitoring / well-being – Warning regarding dryness or high temperatures – Measurement of volume and air flow – Home automation control (e.g. HVAC) – GPS enhancement (e.g. time-to-first-fix improvement, dead reckoning, slope detection) – Indoor navigation (change of floor detection, elevator detection) – Altitude tracking and calories expenditure for sports activities
Here’s a short video explaining the basics:
They implemented nine sensors. You can basically detect anything you want. PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, Temperature, Humidity & Pressure, as stated on their website and visualized below:
* All this is taken into account by AirThinx to provide an overall picture of your indoor environment
Interesting: This monitoring device is able to specifically detect CH2O, also known as formaldehyde. Why? Formaldehyde is extremley hazardous, as Fischer stated already over 100 years ago in his paper:
‘The inhalation of formaldehyde gas in even small quantities is followed by bronchitis and pneumonia.’ (Fischer, 1905)
Plus: It’s very common in our daily life. Sources can be composite wood products, building materials, paints, cosmetics, dishwashing liquids or glues as stated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The high degree of accuracy this company reaches by adding nine different sensors to their IAQ monitoring device is highly beneficial for everyone who is interested in specifics about why the indoor environment is becoming worse. Additionally, being able to narrow it down to one specific gas or a group of compounds, makes it easier to take action and suggest preventive measures for the future.
* AirThinx IAQ, retrieved from: https://airthinx.io/products/iaq/
Airthinx’s indoor air quality monitoring device uses cloud-based plug-and-play sensor technology for continuous, long-term, and real-time monitoring. Nine built-in sensors measure PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, temperature, humidity, and pressure. The small device fits into the palm of a hand and has industrial accuracy, but costs less than industrial solutions, the company says. It uses the Netronix IoT platform and can be deployed quickly in commercial, retail, and residential buildings.
“Real-time indoor air quality data provides a real value to customers, especially considering the potential health risks of waiting for a monitoring device to arrive or waiting for the results of a test. This is a cost-effective solution.”
Airthinx’s indoor air quality monitoring device uses cloud-based plug-and-play sensor technology for continuous, long-term, and real-time monitoring. Nine built-in sensors measure PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, temperature, humidity, and pressure. The small device fits into the palm of a hand and has industrial accuracy, but costs less than industrial solutions, the company says. It uses the Netronix IoT platform and can be deployed quickly in commercial, retail, and residential buildings.
Users can test sustainability efforts around ventilation, air filtration, and green materials. Airthinx also provides API descriptions, allowing platform-to-platform communication about sensor data, location, alerts, and configurations, optimizing building performance by interfacing with cloud-based building management systems.
The product’s alerts offer real-time notifications about poor indoor air quality, which the company says increases the overall health, wellness, and safety of employees in work spaces, students in schools, and patients in hospitals.
Conventional methods for collecting indoor air quality data typically rely on expensive stationary devices that require configuration, operation, and maintenance by a trained expert, Airthinx says. Continuous monitoring captures measurements at the room level, which is normally challenging to address, according to the company.
The Airthinx web application allows users to access real-time data analytics and features like differential alerts. For example, users can create multiple reference points from parameters monitored by one or more devices using minimum, maximum, difference, and average functions. In schools, Airthinx can be used to address dangers to children’s health through the real-time monitoring of exposure to environmental conditions that trigger asthma caused by microscopic dust particles, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, and VOCs.
The company says that the ability to collect data as soon as the device is plugged in instantaneously, continuously, and over a long period of time can provide users with a big picture of air quality. The company adds that its solution enables large-scale and rapid deployment of tens of thousands of devices, facilitating the collection of quantitative data in any infrastructure.
You can’t solve a problem you don’t understand. Raising awareness, sharing information and cultivating interest about indoor air quality are important tools for building design professionals to exploit at the start of the design process to achieve optimal indoor air conditions from the start of a project through building occupancy.
Getting people to break habits is extremely difficult. Paul Scialla, Founder and CEO at Delos explains, “Our built environments can shape our habits, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, drive us toward healthy and unhealthy choices, and passively influence our health through the quality of our surroundings. We spend 90% of our time indoors, and by incorporating a variety of healthy design, construction and operations strategies through evidence-based programs such as the WELL Building Standard, we have a profound opportunity to advance human health, well-being and productivity for everyone.”
“Our built environments can shape our habits, regulate our sleep-wake cycle, drive us toward healthy and unhealthy choices, and passively influence our health through the quality of our surroundings.”
Occupant health is a clear economic incentive. In 2007, a study by Mudarri and Fisk estimated that annual costs of asthma attributable to dampness and mold exposure in homes were between $2.1-4.8 billion. By 2014, studies in the health sector revealed reductions in mortality rates, bloodstream infection rates, and medicine consumption in green hospitals, compared to conventional hospitals, indicating that some of these effects could occur because of improved IAQ. Fewer sick days, reduced employee turnover, and fewer medical errors are compelling incentives to design spaces that incorporate evidence based research findings.
Consumer products and building materials emit dangerous gases like VOCs, Formaldehyde and Carbon Dioxide, influencing indoor air quality. Many of these types of compounds were not present half a century ago. According to the EPA, examples of consumer products and building materials that are also sources of indoor air pollution include office furniture, flooring, paints and coating, adhesives and sealants, wall coverings, office equipment, wood products, textiles, and insulation. In 2010, the World Health Organization established guidelines for maximum thresholds of Formaldehyde at .08 ppm, though there are few guidelines for other gases, environmental conditions and particulate matter (the WHO only first identified particulate matter as an indoor pollutant in 2006, explicitly recognizing the limited availability of resources). Indoor air quality (IAQ) is enhanced by using materials that have negligible carcinogenic or chemical emissions, are installed with minimal VOC-producing compounds, offer moisture resistance, and require simple, non-toxic cleaning methods and products. Today, more consumer products and building materials are being studied and certified as low chemical-emitting materials in an effort to control and achieve good indoor air quality. But is this enough?
One premise for green building design is its impact in the energy sector. Today buildings account for 41% of US energy consumption, with nearly half of that usage coming from the commercial sector. Designers have control over energy consumption and indoor air quality factors such as materials, systems, ventilation, the environmental control scheme, and layout. In 2016, the percentage of firms with over 60% green certified projects reached 18 % and is estimated to triple to 37% by 2018. Under LEED standards, Gold Rated buildings earning 39 points are estimated to reduce environmental impact by 50 percent, while Platinum Rated buildings earning 52 points are estimated to reduce environmental impact by almost 70 percent.
Historically the connection between buildings as repositories and gateways of resource flow and air pollution was difficult to measure. In office buildings, over 1⁄2 of end use energy expenditures come from heating, ventilating and cooling. One of the challenges with flushing ventilation, bringing in outside air at night when the building is unoccupied to cool down the building or remove heat, is the re-introduction of outdoor pollutants and generation of new pollutants. The reaction between outdoor air and indoor materials is a break in equilibrium at the surface of materials causing the emissions of new pollutants, otherwise absorbed by building structures. Well-ventilated work spaces proved to have lower levels of CO2 correlating with decreased levels of worker anxiety and increased levels of productivity. More specific findings in support of the mounting evidence demonstrating the relationship between Indoor Air Quality & productivity tells us there is 61% higher cognitive functioning in green buildings that meet occupant health and energy efficiency standards set by LEED and 100% higher cognitive functioning in buildings with twice the ventilated air rate required for LEED certification (+Green Plus Buildings).
“…heightened levels of Carbon Dioxide over the course of a school year can have detrimental physical effects on children’s developing respiratory system.”
According to Bruce White, Vice President of Airthinx, Inc. “We are starting to see, and have a clearer picture of the health effects of indoor contaminants like PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOC’s on building occupants. We see from recent studies out of Harvard, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, USGBC & IWBI, what elevated levels of CO2 alone can do to students and building occupants. Specifically, in children, elevated levels of CO2 can cause wheezing and levels over 1,000 ppm can result in a 10-20% increases in days away from school. That alone affects the school not only in lower test scores, but also in funding from the US Department of Education on attendance levels. More importantly, the prolonged exposure to heightened levels of Carbon Dioxide over the course of a school year can have detrimental physical effect on children’s’ developing respiratory system.”
A poor indoor environment causes occupant discomfort, health problems and poor performance. Building system performance directly impacts maintenance frequency, equipment life, and energy usage. Understanding the process and possible IAQ endpoints (moisture control, drainage, ductwork protection, HVAC production, use of low VOC building materials, minimum ventilation) encourages improved building design. For example, a life cycle assessment (LCA) addresses the impact of a product through all of its life stages. By executing sustainable design in architecture, there is an opportunity for long-term value through modifiable building systems over the life-cycle instead of least-cost investments.
The impacts of evidence based design, a once value added anomaly, are now a requirement for competitive practice. Occupants heightened exposure to the availability of data & metrics, conditions them to demand more assured outcomes on expensive building projects. Architects are in a position to make collective and informed choices that will have a broad impact in the aggregate, such as advising about emission testing protocols to ensure test results can be translated into real world use cases. For example, under LEED, designers can earn up to 15 points for implementing indoor air quality measures.
When considering the options available for indoor air quality management, the exclusive reliance on cleaning the air with filtration systems may not be enough. Air filtration cleaning method results rest on the assumption that ‘dirty’ contaminants are eliminated. Rather, the systems selectively remove some pollutants but not others, and generate new pollutants when the systems are not properly maintained. A reliable counterpart and solution is continuous monitoring of air quality levels in any infrastructure, preserving the integrity of the measurements, producing never before seen analytics and information, and creating better indoor environments, everywhere in the world. In this way, space planning can be more intuitive and give future projects a greater chance of success.
Building a collective understanding of the indoor air quality problem and its ecosystem, creates opportunities to make informed decisions and inspires actions to transform indoor spaces.
Mr. Valentine Lehr, of Lehr Engineering in New York weighs in, “As a consulting design engineer, I am aware that the best intentions and latest technology often fail when needed maintenance and constant monitoring are neglected. At the heart of this is the cost and effort of monitoring these systems and validating proper operation, both tasks which require human input. Further, while devices to monitor air content have been available, these are usually singularly specific, expensive and need frequent calibration. In that regard, the Airthinx monitor is a significant development and improvement. It’s low cost, easy installation, ability to monitor multiple potential contaminants and ease of integration with BMS and specialized monitoring/alarm centers allows for an unprecedented number of devices to be installed, and the original design intent to be fully maintained, assuring high IAQ.”
The solution, developed by Netronix’s IoT platform, guarantees the highest standards of security, reliability, and scalability of the network, and enables quick deployment of devices in commercial, retail & residential buildings with simple, affordable integration into any built environment. Each Airthinx IAQ device has nine built-in sensors (PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, Temperature, Humidity, & Pressure), measuring air quality with industrial accuracy, at a fraction of the cost, making air quality monitoring financially feasible at room level.
“Its low cost, easy installation, ability to monitor multiple potential contaminants and ease of integration with BMS and specialized monitoring/alarm centers allows for an unprecedented number of devices to be installed, and the original design intent to be fully maintained, assuring high IAQ.”
The advantage of a portable device that fits in the palm of a hand with data available instantaneously from a mobile phone, iPad or desktop is accessibility to information, anytime, anywhere.
Knowledge is power!
A 2016 study by Dr. Joseph Allen of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health linked indoor air quality with cognitive function, opening the door for a new set of criteria for industrial hygienists to consider when implementing corrective action.
The study compared cognitive function of twenty-four participants in different professions by measuring ventilation, CO2, and VOCs in a conventional office building, a Green Building meeting occupant health and energy efficiency standards set by the LEED Council, and a Green Plus Building with twice the ventilated air rate required for LEED certification. The results demonstrated 61% higher cognitive function in the Green Building and 100% higher cognitive function in the Green Plus Building. More specific findings about information usage, the ability to gather and apply information, strategize, plan, prioritize and sequence actions demonstrated an increase by 172%-183% in the Green Building and 288%-299% in the Green Plus Building.
A separate study demonstrates the relationship between CO2 and anxiety. Well ventilated workspaces with lower levels of CO2 correlate with decreased levels of worker anxiety.
A short history of IAQ begins around mid-century, at or around the 2nd industrial revolution. The Great Smog of London was in 1952, though WHO, the World Health Organization, first published its findings of air pollution in 1958. By 1970, the US passed the Clean Air Act and OSHA. In 1984, WHO reported that 1⁄3 of buildings worldwide might be the subject of complaints related to Indoor Air Quality. Interestingly enough, estimates of the number of buildings projected for completion by 2050 account for 70 percent of our infrastructure today, suggesting a spike in data between 1984 and 2017. In 2006, WHO wrote about Indoor Air Quality for the first time, identified particulate matter (PM) as a pollutant, and explicitly recognized that the absence of contaminants like CO reflected the limited availability of resources. The 2006 publication prompted the EPA to revise their 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM 2.5 for a 24 hour day to 35 µg/m³ of air.
What does this all mean? To start, it demonstrates a rise in demand for maintaining higher standards for the most shared global and public resource as well as the need for democratized Indoor Air Quality data.
Conventional methods for collecting Indoor Air Quality data relied heavily on expensive stationary devices. In the United States, for example, the federal government has a network of sensors on towers monitoring particulate matter. The cost of each sensor is $100,000.00. In 2013, Edinburgh City monitored PM 2.5 using a single station. Thus, data is collected from only a few instruments but is representative of a broad geographic area. Furthermore, a trained expert must configure, operate, and maintain these devices.
The fourth industrial revolution accounts for significant advancements in technology and economic change. Before IoT (“Internet of Things”), the intricate design of stand-alone systems yielded high production costs based on cost per unit. Moreover, conventional business models limited the source of revenue to the sale of a single product, a piece of hardware, on a per unit basis.
In the IoT world, all devices are by definition connected to the cloud, opening up a new avenue for access to data. The connection to the cloud enables a hybrid solution for system processing locally and on the cloud. Unlike stand-alone systems, hybrid solutions facilitate the design and development of low-cost devices, while also introducing multiple streams of revenue from the sale of the “thing” and the sale of the “service.” The service can be the transmission of data from the device to the cloud, access to data from the cloud, and hosting of data from the web. Thus, cloud services create a bridge between people and machines, through the collection of enormous amounts of data from “things,” aka sensors, machines, and devices, by way of the cloud.
Though we now know that exposure to PM can be higher indoors in the presence of an indoor source, in 2009 the WHO report did not set out quantitative guidelines, referring to the complex nature of the exposure and associated uncertainties. For the first time, industrial hygienists have an opportunity to collect quantitative data of multiple IAQ measurements simultaneously.
As a direct result of the IoT, a new paradigm emerges in Indoor Air Quality monitoring leading to the much-needed democratization of Indoor Air Quality data. Today, the ability for large-scale and rapid deployment of tens of thousands of devices transforms Indoor Air Quality monitoring and facilitates the collection of quantitative data in any infrastructure. The result is a better understanding and more thorough assessment of exposure.
The use of IoT devices does away with configuration and calibration required when using industry reference instruments as well as complicated installation, maintenance, and operation of the system. Furthermore, there is a reduction in overhead as a result of lower cost per units, making IoT devices a fraction of the price of industrial reference instruments. What is more, IoT solutions generate new sources of revenue with value-added services. Consequently, indoor air quality monitoring is financially feasible at room level in any infrastructure. Companies that adapt to these technological advancements are in a better position to grow, profit, and stay in business. The result is a win-win case for both the buyer and the seller.
But even with such advancements, few sensors produce reliable enough data to be used in studies or by regulations. In comparison to static monitoring, continuous monitoring enhances high temporal-spatial resolution and variability of air pollution, which so far has been challenging to address. These characteristics, the level of accuracy and the precision of the measurements, are the distinguishing characteristics of indoor air quality monitors on the market.
Continuous indoor air quality monitoring in any infrastructure that maintains the integrity of accuracy and precision of measurements, and produces never before seen information and analytics results in better working spaces, everywhere in the world.
Airthinx, Inc., based out of Irvine, California, and powered by the Netronix IoT platform, which ensures security and reliability, recently launched it’s Indoor Air Quality monitoring solution. The solution offers continuous monitoring of air quality in real time at room level in any infrastructure, including commercial buildings, workspaces, schools, healthcare facilities, and residences. With the implementation of an IoT-based solution, the portable, lightweight device is designed to measure air quality data with the level of precision and accuracy of industry reference instruments, at a fraction of the cost.
Airthinx measures a comprehensive set of IAQ pollutants including particles (PM 1, PM 2.5, and PM 10 ), gas (VOCs, CO2, and CH2O) and environmental conditions which affect how pollution forms and lingers (temperature, humidity, and pressure). The innovative solution can be customized to measure any additional parameters. Data is securely uploaded from the cloud to a fully hosted web application, empowering users with access to information on a user-friendly interface, in any location.
As a further testament to its revolutionary DNA, Airthinx adopts the TaaS business model, offering enterprises the opportunity to generate
revenue from the sale of the device and service, making it affordable for the buyer, profit generating for the seller, and marking a historical moment in the democratization of air quality data.
• Allen JG, MacNaughton P, Satish U, Santanam S, Vallarino J, Spengler JD. 2016. Associations of cognitive function scores with carbon dioxide, ventilation, and volatile organic compound exposures in office workers: a controlled exposure study of green and conventional office environments. Environ Health Perspectives 124:805–812; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510037
• Woods SW, Charney DS, Goodman WK, Heninger GR. Carbon Dioxide-Induced Anxiety Behavioral, Physiologic, and Biochemical Effects of Carbon Dioxide in Patients With Panic Disorders and Healthy Subjects. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45(1):43–52. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1988.01800250051007
Julie Spitkovsky, Communications & Development, Airthinx, Inc. https://airthinx.io/
As Internet of Things (IoT) technologies advance, companies have more choices in terms of managing their EHS and sustainability management programs. Example: a new cloud-based sensor technology for long-term and real-time monitoring of indoor air quality from Airthinx, Inc.
Airthinx’s new IoT device packages nine built-in sensors (PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, temperature, humidity, and pressure), measuring air quality with industrial accuracy, the company says.
With people in the US spending an average of 21 hours inside, the quality of indoor air has a significant impact on health and productivity. Exposure to indoor pollutants – like microscopic dust particles (PM 1) lodging deep in the lungs and blood, CO2, formaldehyde, VOCs, and mold – trigger asthma, allergies, and respiratory diseases, Airthinx points out.
The solution enables quick deployment of devices in commercial, retail and residential buildings with simple integration into any built environment. The results are better health, wellness, comfort, energy and performance in buildings, hospitals, schools, homes, hotels, and even airplanes, according to the company. “With immediate data access on a phone or the web, along with text or email alerts, decision-makers can anticipate needs, react accordingly, optimize building performance, reduce maintenance and operational costs, implement energy efficient systems, improve occupant comfort, and grow business in the long run,” the company says.
Benefits of healthy indoor air include:
Additionally, Airthinx: ensures the safest environment and most energy efficient use of systems with access to data anytime anywhere for building managers and employees via a mobile phone or on the web; determines if mechanical and air filtration systems are effective; optimizes systems; and lowers operational costs.
The Airthinx indoor air quality solution is developed by Netronix’s IoT platform, which guarantees the highest standards of security, reliability, and scalability of the network.
Nobody likes a wiseacre, but a certain indoor air quality device just got smarter. Airthinx’s cloud-based sensor technology provides a solution for continuous, long-term real-time monitoring of indoor air quality (IAQ). The company’s Internet of Things (IoT) device packages nine built-in sensors (PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, Temperature, Humidity, & Pressure) that measure air quality with industrial accuracy at a low cost.
The company claims that, in the US, people spend an average of 21 hours inside, and the quality of indoor air has a significant impact on their health and productivity. Exposure to indoor pollutants like microscopic dust particles (PM 1) lodging deep in the lungs and blood, CO2, formaldehyde, VOCs, and mold, trigger asthma, allergies, and respiratory diseases, posing a dangerous health risk.
The solution enables quick deployment of devices in commercial, retail & residential buildings with simple, affordable integration into any built environment. The results are better health, wellness, comfort, energy & performance in buildings, hospitals, schools, homes, hotels, and even airplanes.
The Airthinx IAQ solution is developed by Netronix’s IoT platform (netronix.io). With immediate data access on a phone or the web and sophisticated text or email alerts, decision-makers can anticipate needs, react accordingly, optimize building performance, reduce maintenance & operational costs, implement energy efficient systems, improve occupant comfort, and grow business in the long run. For more details, visit Airthinx.
IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Indoor Air Quality… Just got smarter! Airthinx, Inc. introduces its signature cloud-based sensor technology, a solution for continuous, long-term & real-time monitoring of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). The Internet of Things (IoT) device packages nine built-in sensors (PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, Temperature, Humidity, & Pressure), measuring air quality with industrial accuracy, at a fraction of the cost.
Its mission: push the envelope, so everyone has awareness of their environmental surroundings in every indoor space. In the U.S., people spend an average of 21 hours inside, and the quality of indoor air has a significant impact on their health and productivity. Exposure to indoor pollutants like microscopic dust particles (PM 1) lodging deep in the lungs and blood, CO2, formaldehyde, VOCs, and mold, trigger asthma, allergies, and respiratory diseases, posing a dangerous health risk.
The solution enables quick deployment of devices in commercial, retail & residential buildings with simple, affordable integration into any built environment. The results are better health, wellness, comfort, energy & performance in buildings, hospitals, schools, homes, hotels, and even airplanes.
The Airthinx IAQ solution is developed by Netronix’s IoT platform (netronix.io), which guarantees the highest standards of security, reliability, and scalability of the network.
“The technology to screen air quality and have the data available in the cloud, quickly, cost-effectively, and securely in a portable product simply hasn’t existed until Airthinx. We are excited Airthinx offers a cloud-based solution as an alternative or complement to conventional methods relying on industrial machinery,” says Bruce White, VP of Operations of Airthinx.
With immediate data access on a phone or the web and sophisticated text or email alerts, decision-makers can anticipate needs, react accordingly, optimize building performance, reduce maintenance & operational costs, implement energy efficient systems, improve occupant comfort, and grow business in the long run.
Airthinx will join 800 exhibitors and 23,000 sustainability professionals in Boston, Mass., November 8-10 for the 2017 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, co-locating with Architecture Boston Expo (ABX). “It’s the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building,” says White. “Airthinx is thrilled to be a part of the sustainable building movement.” Attendees will be able to meet face-to-face with Airthinx at Booth S365.
Schools represent the 2nd largest sector of U.S. public infrastructure spending after highways. A 1995 Report by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) of K–12 public schools cited 15,000 schools with indoor air that the EPA classified as “unfit to breathe.” At that time, there was $113 billion in deferred repairs and maintenance. By 2011, the EPA found 46% of U.S. public schools had sub-par environmental conditions contributing to poor indoor air quality. Though air pollution is making its way to the forefront of environmental policy discussions, parents have a long way to go in the battle against poor indoor air quality (IAQ).
According to the EPA, 46% of U.S. public schools had sub-standard environmental conditions contributing to poor indoor quality.
In February 2016, California School District Trinity Unified closed for several days. The inspection revealed widespread mold in the cafeterias, kitchens, administrative offices, libraries, boiler rooms, and classrooms. The mold disruption affected 1000 students. In July 2017, San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District in Texas closed because of mold contamination. The cost for clean up: $17.5 million. In August 2017, Munoz Marin elementary in North Philadelphia closed due to mold. The price tag for mold remediation: upwards of $300,000. In the last three weeks alone, school districts in Gloucester County & Monroe Township, New Jersey, closed. At the same time, The John B. Kelly Elementary School in Germantown, Philadelphia closed. The culprit: mold. Schools are responding by relocating students to nearby buildings (notably, the EPA finds schools already have four times as many occupants compared to office buildings with the same amount of floor space).
Mold, a large number of species of fungi, is a dangerous source of air pollution. Mold in the air is the source of eye infections, rashes, asthma (according to the CDC, 8% of the US population, roughly 25 million, or 1 in 13 people have asthma), respiratory diseases, and allergic reactions. It grows on any substance that has moisture by producing tiny reproductive spores that travel through the air continuously. When mold spores land on a damp spot inside a school building, they digest available material to survive and grow. With excessive moisture or water accumulation that is undiscovered, mold can begin to contaminate spaces within 48 hours.
Parents expressed concern, wanting to know about the air quality in classrooms before their children go back to school. Continuously monitoring air quality parameters like humidity in real time over a long-term prevents mold growth before children are affected. By deploying cost-effective cloud-connected devices with sensors throughout a school building and premises, superintendents have the ability to take control of dangerous mold situations before they develop.
Airthinx, Inc. an air quality monitoring company, recently launched the first of its kind cloud-connected device with nine sensors built in for continuous long-term air quality monitoring in real time. By generating real-time data, school building managers can take corrective action before contamination with sophisticated alerts that transform quantitative data into a qualitative decision-making process. Schools that take advantage of this innovative technology stand to benefit from a large-scale solution enabling rapid deployment of a single device simplifying everything and creating safer & healthier indoor environments for children and teachers.
Internet of Things (IoT) platform provider Netronix, Inc. and Airthinx Inc. a leader of indoor air quality monitoring, are working together to provide cities around the world with a low cost cloud based solution designed to monitor air quality across schools, universities, hospitals and work spaces. The advantages of cloud based solutions are mapping, tracking, identification of pollutants, measurement of pollutants, data analytics using historical trends, and data mining. Cities stand to benefit from ubiquitous long term monitoring and management of air quality, in real time with instantaneous data available for quick city wide propagation, like geo-mapping incident reports of high pollution areas.
Municipalities are hard pressed to find low cost solutions. Conventional methods for collecting indoor air quality data relied heavily on expensive stationary devices. In the United States, for example, the federal government has a network of sensors on towers monitoring particulate matter. The cost of each sensor is $100,000. While in Edinburgh, the city had a single station monitoring PM 2.5 as of 2013. Thus data is collected from only a few instruments but is representative of a broad geographic area.
Moving away from conventional methods, many cities are implementing short term initiatives as first steps towards smart city transformation. In 2014, Chicago deployed 50 nodes mounted on lampposts developed with Argonne National Library and the Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology. Barcelona deployed a smart lighting system with embedded air quality sensors that relay information to city agencies and the public as part of their smart city initiative costing in total $230 million. Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami installed park benches equipped with a solar panel that channel electricity via USB ports to charge. Denver in partnership with Google and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) attached mobile sensors to cars throughout a city, collecting 150 million data points over 750 hours of driving time, creating a street level air quality map of the city. Dublin fitted 30 bikes with air sensors measuring carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, smoke, and particulates.
Last year, London attached air quality sensors to ten pigeons to monitor air quality over three days of flights. Louisville gave 300 local residents a sensor that fits on top of their inhaler, tracking locations of inhaler use to help residents manage asthma, collecting 5,400 data points over the 13 months, and identifying hotspots with high inhaler use in order to pinpoint areas with particularly bad air quality.
Philadelphia begins the smart city transformation process with its most recent initiative to release open data from city departments. Mayor Kenney also points to ownership and accessibility of light poles and city buildings which can accommodate sensors and wireless access points spread throughout the city. With institutional players like Drexel, Penn, Wharton, CHOP & Comcast, the infrastructure to implement smart city solutions is in place.
Dr. Nasis, founder and CEO of Netronix, Inc. and faculty member of electrical & computer engineering at Drexel, shares insight into the transformation process. “A smart city is a segment of IoT. Many have looked at the smart city as a vertical market on its own, when actually it is a horizontal market with many verticals below it, such as safety, environmental, healthcare, energy, and transportation.”
In the environmental vertical, cities can monitor air quality, water quality and weather. Across the safety vertical, meters already exist that detect gunshots to determine the precise location of the incident helping address crime prevention. Energy, another vertical, can be optimized in street lighting and power plants to keep consumption down. And in the transportation vertical, parking, bus, and traffic can be monitored to enhance quality of life.
‘Many have looked at the smart city as a vertical market on its own, when actually it is a horizontal market with many verticals below it.’
A significant challenge of smart cities is having the tools to address compatibility within and between each vertical. Dr. Nasis cites a “holistic approach, rather than filling in the holes.” The smart parking meter experiment is an IoT solution but also an example of ‘filling in the holes.’ Without an overarching smart city horizontal in place, the initiative did not work. Dr. Nasis concludes, “for a successful smart city, each vertical and the needs of each vertical must be defined, and that requires systemic planning.”
Netronix Ventures, LLC, a subsidiary of Netronix, based out of Philadelphia, aims to start up 100 companies in the next decade using Netronix’s IoT platform. Smart city solutions can be developed in record time, saving 75 percent of the time and costs associated with the development and production of devices and services using conventional methods.
The IoT is about sharing things, interacting, and learning. An information gap leads to a certain kind of decision making. A smart platform creates opportunities to make more informed choices when investing in the city. The smart part is how you collect and make use of the intelligence. By breaking the information gap, the result is a better understanding, more thorough assessment of exposure, heightened awareness, and a complete picture of the data.
Today, the means for large scale and rapid deployment of tens of thousands of devices transforms air quality monitoring and facilitates the collection of quantitative data in any infrastructure. As a direct result of the IoT, a new paradigm emerges in air quality monitoring leading to the much-needed democratization of air quality data. Knowing about the quality of the air you breathe or the water you drink pushes people to take social responsibility.
A significant cost to a smart city transformation is the installation process. 70 percent of city officials say budget constraints are the greatest barrier to adopting smart city solutions. In many cities, a complete overhaul poses a lofty price tag associated with the redesign of buildings and infrastructure. A cloud based solution with deployment of IoT enabled devices eliminates the once costly installation, configuration and calibration associated with industry reference instruments.
Such a significant reduction in overhead and cost per unit lowers the price of the device to a fraction of industrial reference instruments. Cities benefit from investment because there is no need to redesign infrastructure in order to adopt IAQ solutions as part of a widespread smart city plan. One incentive is real time data that anticipates future needs. For example, with built in GPS, the locations of sensors take into account the points in the city with the most exposure to air quality hazards, protecting city dwellers and workers. The data can also be reviewed by a team to determine appropriate next steps. Monitoring air quality becomes financially feasible at room level in any infrastructure.
But even with such advancements, few sensors produce reliable enough data to be used in studies or by regulations. In comparison to static monitoring, continuous monitoring enhances high temporal-spatial resolution and variability of air pollution, which so far has been difficult to address. These characteristics, the level of accuracy, precision and identification of microscopic particles in the air, are distinguishing characteristics of air quality monitors in the market. The ability to continuously monitor air quality levels in any infrastructure while preserving the integrity of the measurements, and producing never before seen analytics and information, creates better indoor environments, everywhere in the world.
Dr. Vasileios Nasis will be presenting at the Wharton IGEL & SUEZ Conference – Smart Utilities: Bridge to Smart Cities of the Future on September 27.
On August 26, 2017, 26 children were born during category four Hurricane Harvey, the strongest storm to make landfall since Charley in 2004. Texas and parts of Louisiana are now tasked with keeping these newborns and the 13 million people under flood watch protected from airborne infections.
So far 450,000 people are seeking FEMA assistance. Many properties in the affected areas were built before the ban on the use of asbestos and lead-based paints and building materials. Cleanup activities and demolition can easily aerosolize these materials creating a health hazard to anyone nearby.
Harvey presents new challenges to public health and safety. Airborne, waterborne, and foodborne diseases occur for up to 1 month after a natural disaster. Currently, one-third of Houston is under 11 trillion gallons of water, an accumulation of more water in 1 day than an entire year of rain in Seattle, while 55,000 people in Port Arthur, where the nation’s largest oil refinery closed down, are endangered by flooding from Beaumont.
Even clean rain water, Category 1 water damage, can begin to grow mold within 48 hours of entering the building. Exposure of 32,000 people in shelters to conditions conducive to biological contamination (e.g., dampness, water damage) can cause nonspecific upper and lower respiratory symptoms, triggering asthma attacks.
The American Lung Association, American Medical Association, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identify outdoor air, human occupants who shed viruses and bacteria, animal occupants (insects and other arthropods, mammals) that shed allergens, indoor surfaces and water reservoirs where fungi and bacteria may grow, such as humidifiers, as sources of biological air pollutants.
Indoor environments host biological agents that can cause three types of human disease: infections, where pathogens invade human tissues; hypersensitivity diseases, where specific activation of the immune system causes disease; and toxicosis, biologically produced chemical toxins that cause direct toxic effects. A number of factors allow biological agents to grow and be released into the air. Especially important is high relative humidity, which encourages dust mite populations to increase and allows fungal growth on damp surfaces.
The lung is the most common site of injury by airborne pollutants. The Center for Disease Control warns that communicable disease outbreaks can occur when sanitation and hygiene are compromised as a result of natural disaster. 350 patients at Ben Taub Hospital, Houston’s largest Level 1 trauma center, began evacuating patients Sunday, however rising water levels prevent relocation and facilities are running out of food. Weather and flood disasters expose survivors and responders to increased risks of respiratory infection disease, the most common infectious diseases in survivors. Sources of microbial application are HVAC systems, air intakes near contamination such as standing water, organic debris, humidification systems, cooling coils, and condensate drain pans in hospitals.
A critical area in environmental monitoring, Particulate Monitoring, is key to the prevention of such Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI’s). Poor indoor air quality increases the transmission of airborne infectious disease. Studies at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found an airborne concentration of infectious agents is produced during coughing and sneezing in the form of microscopic particles. People with pneumonia, a lung infection, due to MRSA, what is commonly known as a staph infection, can transmit MRSA by airborne droplets.
Continuous IAQ Monitoring allows for real time response actions. As a result of the Internet of Things, we have the ability to analyze large amounts of data stored in the cloud and convert quantitative data into qualitative data. Environmental monitoring of 23 Houston area hospitals with over 14,000 patients advances hurricane relief through the real-time gathering of information about air quality, reducing the adverse effects of airborne pollutants and the spread of infections across contaminated public spaces.
As a result of Hurricane Harvey, over 600,000 residential structures and over 85,000 commercial buildings sustained damage that will require some degree of a demolition or removal of materials including flooring components, drywall, plaster walls, ceilings, furniture, and mechanical systems. During the removal process, dust is generated at such a quick rate spreading particulates throughout occupied spaces and causing aerosolization of contaminants. Low-cost cloud based Indoor Air Quality monitors and devices are a significant tool during the removal processes to optimally transmit and communicate information about indoor pollutants in real-time and ensure timely remedial measures.
In particular, high occupancy commercial buildings such as multi-story buildings, hotels, hospitals, multi-tenant facilities, and industrial facilities that combine manufacturing with office spaces are just some of the infrastructure that will require demolition and removal relief from Harvey over the next year. Long term continuous monitoring increases the health and safety of both the survivors and responders. Multiple devices can be installed throughout a facility for the best assessment of IAQ and “big picture” of what is occurring in the facility. And most importantly, all the devices can be monitored, simultaneously, by a mobile phone, tablet or desktop.
Finding a device that measures multiple parameters such as microscopic particulates less than 10 microns in size, temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide, total volatile organic compounds, air pressure, and formaldehyde; all components of concern for indoor air quality has never been easier.
Borrowing the story of Mary Anderson from iPhone legend Tony Fadell, Mrs. Anderson sat in a street car on a snowy day in New York City.
While Mary waited for the street car to depart, she observed the conductor open his door to brush the snow off the windshield, using his hands.
Mary thought to herself, what if there was a way to remove snow from the windshield without even opening the door, that is, from the inside of the car…
In November of 1903, Mary’s design-(thinking) idea manifested itself in the form of a patent for an ‘automatic car window cleaning device controlled inside the car,’ i.e. the windshield wiper.
A decade later, Henry Ford installed the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire automobile, marking the end of the 2nd industrial revolution (1870-1914).
The Internet of Things (IoT) is now the largest segment of the 4th industrial revolution, Industry 4.0.
For our new readers, IoT is connecting people with devices, and devices with devices, to the internet. These things, or thinx, as we like to call them, include: goods, objects, machines, appliances, buildings, vehicles, animals, people or in other words everything to anything.
With this unprecedented level of hyper-connectivity, there are new capabilities for the use of data: analytics, controls, prediction and intelligence.
So what happens when we say what if there is a way to redesign sensors with IoT in mind? Will we reap the benefits of the ‘windshield wipers’ of IoT devices? Whatever your IoT destination, Netronix will get you there.
Harmful pollutants are spewing everywhere, including indoors. And while the focus is on those external emissions created by power plants, industrial facilities and automobiles, there is solid reason to turn inward: The level of volatile organic compounds — gases from solids and liquids — is 10 times greater indoors than it is outdoors.
US Environmental Protection Agency workers don protective gear at 110 Liberty St to test cleaning methods as part of the EPA’s indoor clean air initiative for Lower Manhattan, New York, New York, June 27, 2002. Some have walkie-talkies and others are bringing air quality monitors into the building. (Photo by Allan Tannenbaum/Getty Images)
That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which adds that dirty air, generally, inside of commercial and residential buildings is two-to-five times greater than what is outside. And that is leading to health problems. In extreme cases, think of burning coal or wood for indoor cooking and heating in developing countries. The good news is that the technologies exist to monitor air quality and to improve energy efficiencies.
“As we learn to live a healthier lifestyle by eating better, we can also live a healthier lifestyle by breathing better,” Vasileios Nasis, chief executive of the Netronix Group in Philadelphia told this writer. In doing so, he adds that “You can also contribute to energy savings.”
As for Netronix, its relatively inexpensive instruments are installed within a business or home that gather data associated with air quality, all in real time. That information is then stored in the company’s cloud software, which it monitors for a monthly fee. At the appropriate times, managers or consumers are notified to shift their usage patterns. That not only cuts down on electricity bills and pollutant levels but it can also improve the performance of existing equipment.
Green schools, for instance, say that they use a third less energy than conventionally-constructed schools, which cuts down on their utility costs and improves the air that students breathe. Ditto for hospitals, which must have sterile environments. By installing devices that can measure air quality, managers are notified of problems before they happen.
Consider that high CO2 levels inside of a building cause headaches — an issue that can be resolved by sending automated signals to turn on fans or air condition units. Professional energy managers will know the various levels and will be able to set the parameters according to their preferences while businesses that lack such an expertise can work with their vendors.
There’s a range of solutions with quick paybacks. Creating real change means controlling demand at large plants and commercial buildings. Experts can study a facility’s technologies and operating protocols and determine where the pitfalls lie. They can then provide a good range of retrofits and the potential savings that those innovations will produce.
The World Health Organization is actively addressing air pollution. Worldwide, it says that a third of cardiovascular diseases can be linked to indoor and outdoor pollution while 29% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths are tied to poor indoor air quality.
William J. Fisk, with the Indoor Environment Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, writes that the annual savings and productivity gains would be greater than $200 billion. That includes everything from reduced respiratory disease to improvements in worker performance.
“It is very difficult to control air quality outside,” says Netronix’s Nasis, “but we can control it inside. In the process, we can save tons of energy while we also save money and preserve the environment.”
One of the most common pursuits today is for buildings to get LEED certified to ensure that commercial construction meets modern standards. Such standards look at how buildings are fueled as well as water efficiency and indoor air quality.
According to the Green Building Council, offices consume 70% of the electricity load in the United States. They also account for roughly 38% of all greenhouse gas emissions and over the next 25 years, CO2 emissions from those structures are projected to grow faster than any other sector, at 1.8% a year.
The companies that occupy those structures are going green to improve their brands. But they are also doing so because they can save money. One of the easiest ways to achieve environmental and energy savings is through lighting retrofits.
Consider Nissan Motor Co., which is allocating more capital to energy efficiency: Altogether, the company says that it has implemented $2.6 million worth of energy efficiency projects since 2012 while saving $2.1 million a year and preventing tons of carbon releases.
Hilton Hotels and Amazon’s Whole Foods, furthermore, are helping out each other. Hilton, for example, suggested to Whole Foods that it use more natural lighting whereas Whole Foods thought Hilton ought to use more advanced lighting that dims when no one is around.
When it comes to cutting emissions, most of the focus is on external sources such as power plants. But it is also imperative that commercial and residential structures become more energy efficient, which will have an equally profound impact on the environment and on workers’ health.
IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Airthinx, Inc., a provider of smart sensor air quality (IAQ) technology for healthy indoor spaces, today announced that the signature Airthinx IAQ Device received a Top Product of the Year Award from the Environmental Leader and Energy Manager Today Awards.
The Airthinx IAQ device delivers a continuous, accurate, & precise indoor air quality monitoring solution for infrastructures, resulting in never before seen quantitative information and analytics that optimize decision making for professionals and anyone concerned with their health. Each wireless cloud connected smart device monitors key indicators of air quality in real-time utilizing 9 built in sensors that measure PM 1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, CH2O, VOCs, Temperature, Humidity, & Pressure. This ensures the safest environment & most energy efficient use of systems with access to data anytime anywhere for building managers, employees, and residents via a mobile phone or on the web.
Dr. Vasileios Nasis, founder of Netronix Inc., the Internet of Things platform that powers up the Airthinx, shares his enthusiasm: “We are thrilled to be part of the sustainable building movement and honored by the recognition. It is one thing to come up with an idea, and it’s even more awesome to execute it. Netronix creates the opportunity for developers & OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to come up with their own IoT solution in any vertical market. The example set by Airthinx changes the entire landscape of environmental monitoring. What was once unknown can be known, allowing people to see the air they breathe with a professional instrument, not a gadget. In less than a year since entering the market, the response by users has been overwhelming. The next step is going to be significant in years to come, especially in terms of public health.”
The Environmental Leader and Energy Manager Today Product & Project Awards is a program recognizing excellence in products and services that provide companies with energy and environmental benefits to increase the bottom line. “This is a pretty amazing new product,” said Tim Hermes, VP & Group Publisher of Business Sector Media. “I saw it first-hand several months ago, and knew that its monitoring capability, functionality and ease-of-implementation could really make it stand out in our Awards program.”
Scores were determined by a panel of independent judges headed by Peter Bussey of LNS Research and also included judges from: Ball Aerospace, Best Buy, Black Ink Consulting, BSI Group, CANDA, Caesars, Consultant Ben Larkey, Harbec, Kellogg, Marriott, Miller Coors, Nike, Novartis, Sears Holdings Corporation, Strategic Sustainable Consulting, Sustridge, Tesla, Wellborn Cabinet, and Vincit Group.
“With a highly respected (and critical) judging panel and a strict set of judging criteria, entrants faced an extremely high bar for the level of product or project to qualify for an award,” says Hermes. “Those who entered needed to bring their A-game to get even a sniff of award-nirvana. And they delivered.”
Airthinx will be featuring its revolutionary indoor air quality monitoring device & solution at the Environmental Leader & Manager Today Awards Conference in Denver, Colorado, May 15-17 and the following week at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Expo in Philadelphia, PA, May 21-23. For more information please contact Julie Spitkovsky firstname.lastname@example.org.
The complex hospital environment requires special attention to ensure healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) to protect patients and healthcare workers against hospital acquired infections and occupational diseases.
As with any other building, it is packed with complex equipment and systems such as energy management and HVAC systems. System performance directly impacts maintenance frequency, equipment life, and energy usage. Types of HVACS include Variable Air Volume & Fan Coil Systems, both adopted by new and old buildings.
In an environmental ecosystem, if one of the components fails, it affects the building as a whole. When looking at environmental data, it is important to see the big picture. If a few of the parameters are slightly off, collectively these parameters can create an unhealthy or even dangerous environment.
For example, high levels of CO2 are a proxy for poor ventilation and movement of air in a space. Inadequate building ventilation systems account for 53% or hazards to indoor air quality resulting from lack of outside air, poor air distribution, temperature & humidity, and containment sources inside the system
LCI Engineering Australia recently shared an experience with their client, a healthcare facility, after measuring indoor air quality with the Airthinx IAQ Device for just 2 days, they were able to identify the source of pollution and eliminate the need for costly remediation.
“A healthcare client of ours approached us with an overheating problem in their Radiotherapy Planning Room that was part of a VAV air conditioning system with a dedicated VAV unit serving the Room. The client suspected they would need to replace their AC system. We attended the site and our inspection confirmed the room was in fact warm (25C) and conditions were stuffy. We installed the Airthinx IAQ device. After two days, we noticed an odd pattern in the logged data. The temperature was steady at 25C +-0.5C, regardless of time of day and the room use. The CO2 was swinging wildly, peaking at 2000 ppm, confirming the feeling of stale air when we initially visited the site. With this new information, we reviewed the original system design which indicated that the VAV unit should be more than capable of providing enough fresh air to control the build-up of CO2. We contacted the Facility Management department and provided the new air quality data. They reviewed the BMS logs for the Room and also sent a technician to check the VAV box. The technician found a broken drive linkage on the VAV box. The VAV box was then fixed. We were able to see the change in the room conditions within 10 mins of the VAV box being fixed, and were able to rule out the overload in the room as a source of air pollution. The room is now controlled at 22C, and CO2 remains steady at 600 ppm. The radio therapists are very happy, and the client has not spent $50,000 on a new AC system to control the air quality conditions in the room.”
Airthinx is revolutionizing the Indoor Air industry with a low-cost professional air quality device, providing accurate & precise monitoring at room level of 9 indoor air pollutants (Particulate Matter 1.0, 2.5 and 10 microns in size, Carbon Dioxide, Formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds, Temperature, Pressure & Humidity). It’s simple to install, works directly out of the box, and has built-in 3G and wifi, so it is always connected to the cloud and collecting data. For the first time, Environmental Health & Safety personnel can have access to data anytime, anywhere from the web, iPad or phone, so they are best equipped to make real-time decisions in any infrastructure.
Over the years we have become better educated on how to live a healthier lifestyle by consuming “better” food and exercising. However, that’s only a part of the equation. Just as important and an often overlooked criteria for health is the air that we breathe.
The 9 most prevalent indoor air pollutants in the home are Particulate Matter 1.0, 2.5 and 10 microns in size, Carbon Dioxide, Volatile Organic Compounds, Formaldehyde, Temperature, Humidity and Pressure.
Why is indoor air pollution important to monitor? Because we spend 93 percent of our times indoors and it because it affects our health. Healthy homes boost energy levels and sleep quality. Polluted homes can trigger respiratory symptoms, affect heart rate, dietary rhythms, and hormone balance, cause inflammation of asthma, has been linked to increases in diabetes based on a new study just last week, and is even linked to low birth weights and defects.
The lung is the most common site of injury by airborne pollutants. Children are especially sensitive to air pollution because they breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults. Because children’s respiratory systems are still developing, they are more susceptible than adults to environmental threats. For example, toddlers are exposed to higher levels of Particulate Matter like dust, just by crawling around on the floor and putting objects into their mouths. At the gym, inhalation of high levels of particulate matter reduce exercise performance by 24.4% during short term high intensity cycling.
“I’ve been working on a Masters degree for the last year focusing on environmental health literacy and indoor air quality. Curiosity finally killed the cat and I installed the Airthinx IAQ monitor in my apartment, only to learn the CO2 and particulate count was through the roof. We spend 90% of our time inside. So, while the initial data isn’t great, having this data is critical to making sure we have indoor environments that promote our health, happiness, productivity and well-being.”
Occupants can change habits at home to improve their air quality. Simple adjustments like cracking a window open, turning the vent on while cooking, and cleaning with natural agents like vinegar can create healthier indoor spaces.
Airthinx is the 1st Professional Instrument that measures 9 pollutants in real-time with all the data available via the Airthinx App, making air quality monitoring feasible at room level. As a result, everyone has the ability to see the air they breathe.
The cost of unhealthy air just soared to new ‘heights’, since you can’t place a value on human life. While the implications of unhealthy air are well documented at this point, less so is the nature of indoor air quality and its monitoring on airplanes, a built environment that typically faces more imminent threats. If you’re someone that spends a lot of time on airplanes, air quality is as important on flight as it is in ones home. But the threat of poor air quality is now materializing.
In a new study by Harvard Professor Dr. Joe Allen, the first to demonstrate that carbon dioxide levels adversely affect pilot performance, researchers found that pilots were 69% more likely to receive a passing grade on an average maneuver when the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels were at either 700 ppm or 1500 ppm. The data also showed that commercial pilots were more successful at performing advanced maneuvers and managing emergency situations like single-engine failure during takeoff when the levels of CO2 in the cockpit were 700 ppm. While average concentrations of CO₂ levels on deck are below 1000 ppm, the 95th percentile concentration can be as high as 1400 ppm, depending on the airplane type. In that case, just hope your next flight doesn’t require advanced maneuvering by the pilot. Alternatively, airplanes utilizing indoor air quality monitoring devices on flights are better off.
The study also points towards a new kind of accountability on the part of the airline to protect its passengers from unsafe air that may be toxic to the pilot, therefore affecting the safety of the flight. In terms of the health of the passengers, crew & pilots, the airline may also be accountable for protecting against prolonged exposure to unsafe or even toxic air, especially during cross continental travel. And, just because courts have yet to assign liability to poor air quality doesn’t mean that poor air quality hasn’t been the cause of plane crashes, it’s just that we don’t know of any cases where air quality monitoring has been done on airplanes that have crashed.
Today, the airline industry has many protocols in place for accumulating knowledge, and receiving consistent and continuous feedback, a standard mechanism in the airline industry. With these mechanisms already in place, there are few barriers to standardizing air quality on planes.
“The first time we really thought of air quality monitoring on airplanes was when the Airthinx IAQ device first launched in ‘17, and we were flying all over the world for meetings,” says electrical engineer and Netronix CEO, Dr. Vasileios Nasis.“ I always wondered why I felt so lethargic just before takeoff, and now I realize it’s because of the Carbon Dioxide levels. Of course my next logical concern was ‘oh s*** what if the pilots feel like this too!’” Nasis says he used the Airthinx to measure CO2 levels on his subsequent flights, finding levels above 2500 ppm before take off and after landing. In flight, the measurements fluctuated between 1500 and 2000 ppm, not far off from the simulated study by Allen of Harvard.
Typically, the ventilation systems are off or low from the time of take off until the plane reaches flying altitude, which explains the feeling of sleepiness. Thus high levels of Carbon Dioxide or other pollutants can be utilized as a signal of improper mechanical system functioning, as was the case with air cabin pressure in Helios Flight 522.
Dr. Katerinakis, in his book titled, “The Social Construction of Knowledge in Mission-Critical Environments: The Lessons from the Flight Deck”, explains what happened on Helios Flight 522:
The Helios 522 “Ghost Plane” Flight was a unique accident in the history of world aviation, with only 2 other reported accidents occuring under similar conditions where all of the passengers were unconscious. It’s been referred to as the False ‘Greek 9/11’ threat.
There, the pilot and co-pilot seemed to have missed the checklist entry for a crucial AC switch which remained in ‘manual’ (they were suppposed switch it to auto).
When they set the plane to auto-pilot to reach cruising altitude, it took all of 13 minutes for air pressure to drop during the climb. The pilots, misinterpreting the warning signals of the air pressure drop, instead suspected an overheating problem, until they became unconscious, along with the passengers, suffered hypoxia, and died at impact. There were 122 fatalities.
In other words, the only terrorist aboard Helios Flight 522 was poor air quality. Said differently, an Airthinx could have saved the day.
An additional benefit of monitoring air quality is the ability to track a flight in real-time, so in a worst case scenario where everyone is unconscious, a device that can track the coordinates of the plane might be a useful security tool.
Airthinx is revolutionizing the Indoor Air industry with a low-cost professional air quality device, providing accurate & precise monitoring at room level of 9 air pollutants (PM 1.0, PM 2.5 and PM 10, Carbon Dioxide, Formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds, Temperature, Pressure & Humidity). It’s simple to install, works directly out of the box, and has built-in 3G and wifi, so it is always connected to the cloud (even on a plane) and collecting data. For the first time, both health & safety personnel and pilots can have access to data anytime, anywhere from the web, iPad or phone, so they are best equipped to make real-time decisions.
Indoor air quality is one of the many emerging topics of environmental health and green building. Humans spend more time indoors than out, therefore the air we are breathing while inside is critically important to our health. As we become more aware of the health impacts of not having a clean breathing environment, products are emerging on the market to allow for safer building materials, cleaning products, and cleaner air. Indoor air quality is one of the factors that the WELL building standard focuses on, as it directly relates to people’s lives and prosperity.
A good place to start with this is first being able to measure and track your building’s indoor air quality, which will help to find areas for improvement. Throughout the years, there have been many air quality monitors, all with different styles of use, data recording, setup, etc. Recently, at Green Building Alliance, we started using the AirThinx monitor to track the state of our office’s air quality. What we first loved about the device was the ease in the activation; after setting up an account online, it was simply plugged in anywhere and able to be used. This portable monitor can be moved to any location and instantly start collecting data. We look forward to bringing the monitor to other offices as we show them how it works and hope to help our partners start tracking their indoor air quality.
During the construction project in our office, we have used the AirThinx monitor to track the changes that are happening and how it impacts our working environment. We can check updates in real time and go back and compare to different points of the process. With the online display, anyone with access can log on and view the data collected by the monitor. The experience can be customized to suit the needs of the user. Changeable dashboards, alerts and notifications, light options, and viewing options make AirThinx unique and fun to use.
If you are playing with the idea of working on the indoor air quality in your living or working space, an air quality monitor may be your next move. To quantify the impacts of your changes, a baseline is essential. Cleaner air means happier people and contributes to Pittsburgh’s p4 initiatives, benefiting the overall goals of a greater, more sustainable, city. Give it a try and start working on your healthier indoor environment!
The WELL building standard by IWBI measures verifies and monitors building features that impact health and well-being and is based on ten principles, including Air, Thermal Comfort, Ventilation, and Materials. In 2016, Deloitte reported there are a growing number of WELL certification specifications in requests for proposals. This year IWBI launched WELL V2, incorporating findings from over 1000 existing WELL projects and human health research over the last four years. The ROI of WELL certification is judged on the basis of increased property values and the health of a building’s occupants. 73 percent of owners view it as a positive impact on a building’s leasing rate, 62 percent view it as a positive impact on the building value, and 79 percent view it as a positive impact on occupant satisfaction.
Understanding WELL. The first (and perhaps the most important) concept under the WELL building standard is AIR. Under this concept, points are awarded to projects that create healthy indoor spaces with enhanced air quality via the implementation of a continuous indoor air quality monitoring solution. There is no requirement that the monitors be certified, rather, specifications for the monitors are outlined in Section A08 and discussed below.
How to be prepared for the verification process. Being able to prescreen your air quality before the verification process is a big advantage for architects, designers, sustainability advisors, builders and WELL project managers. Onsite performance testing, on-going reporting, and ongoing monitoring are all requirements for WELL certification. Having access to your projects air quality data prior to the performance test can save time and money and ensure passing. For example, measuring the levels of indoor pollutants with the Airthinx IAQ Device can help project owners better understand any weaknesses in the designated space.
Points under WELL v2. There are 3 tiers of WELL Core status ranging from silver (50-59 points) and gold (60-79 points) to platinum (80-100 points). Before a project can qualify for points, there are several preconditions that must be satisfied including effective ventilation, fundamental air quality, and thermal performance.
Carbon dioxide levels are a proxy for poor ventilation. Prescreening the effectiveness of your ventilation systems can be achieved prior to the performance test by measuring carbon dioxide levels. If carbon dioxide levels exceed 1000 ppm and there is low occupancy, then there is a problem with ventilation.
Under the fundamental air quality preconditions, projects must meet certain thresholds for particulate matter and organic gases, both verified through performance testing, and must also implement air quality monitoring, verified through ongoing data reports. To satisfy the thermal comfort precondition, a project has to demonstrate its ability to monitor temperature and humidity.
Passing the Performance Test, Meeting the Data Reporting Requirements & Ongoing Monitoring. For the first time, anyone can have access to air pollution data anytime, anywhere from the web, iPad or phone, so they are best equipped to make real-time decisions about their health.
“For example, say you are a manager on a WELL project and want to achieve points for Enhanced Air Quality. Section A05 requires that thresholds for PM2.5 and PM 10 are less than 10 μg/m³ and < 20 μg/m³. Verification for this section is accomplished with an on-site performance test. Utilizing the Airthinx in advance of the performance test allows anyone to have access to their air quality data and to mitigate any poor performance in order to pass the test. So if the levels of particulates for PM 10 are above 20 μg/m³, then project managers can install air filters or any other mechanism to lower the particle counts.”
Section A08 goes on to award points for continuous air quality monitoring. Utilizing the Airthinx IAQ Device is a simple way to satisfy this requirement. It measures at least 4 of the required parameters, with measurements taken at intervals of no longer than 10 minutes for particulate matter and carbon dioxide (in fact the Airthinx measures all the air quality parameters in 1-minute intervals) and data can easily be submitted through WELL Online with downloadable pdf graphs or csv tables available through the professional web console, thus satisfying the reporting requirement.
WELL awards additional points for Air Quality awareness. The Airthinx satisfies this criterion since data can be shared with occupants via a real-time display, can be mounted on the wall in the breathing zone (rather than being placed on a surface or desk) and has built-in visual alerts that demonstrate good, moderate and poor air quality with a blue, yellow or red LED light. Beyond that, the required data is hosted on both a website and phone application accessible to occupants in the space.
Airthinx is revolutionizing the Indoor Air industry with a low-cost professional air quality device, providing accurate, precise and continuous monitoring at room level of 9 air pollutants (PM 1.0, PM 2.5 and PM 10, Carbon Dioxide, Formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds, Temperature, Pressure & Humidity). It’s simple to install, works directly out of the box, and has built-in 3G and wifi, so it is always connected to the cloud and collecting reliable data.
There are many more ways to earn points utilizing the Airthinx IAQ solution, the above list is by no means exhaustive.
Julie Spitkovsky, Airthinx Inc.
Americans typically spend 90 percent of their time in one of 4.5 million commercial buildings, so indoor air quality is an important environmental health area to address, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Advancing technologies and the public’s growing awareness of this health issue are driving an expansion of indoor air quality monitoring.
Low-cost devices coupled with favorable “green policies” and recommendations from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are giving indoor air quality monitoring technologies the jolt they need to address growing public concerns.
While the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t have a mandate to explicitly regulate indoor air quality, it does field major education and advocacy programs on sources of indoor air pollutants, including asthma triggers, radon, and other topics.
During the past decade, significant innovations in technology have made indoor air quality monitoring available to residential or commercial and government building occupants. This article identifies three major indoor air risks—small particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds—and examines their impacts on human health. Indoor air quality is also correlated with how well or poorly HVAC systems are functioning in buildings.
In the U.S., 8 percent of the population—or about 25 million people—experience asthmatic episodes. Common air pollutants such as particulate matter also are linked to low birth weights and birth defects.
Employers may be surprised to learn that respiratory illnesses such as the flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, and the common cold, which are all exacerbated by unhealthy air quality, account for 176 million sick days a year, according to a study by William J Fisk at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Anyone concerned with health stands to benefit from measuring particulates, the most dangerous being 1 micron in width, which can be absorbed deeply into the lungs. To give an idea about just how small these particulates are, a single strand of human hair is 50 microns in diameter. The smaller the particle, the worse it is and the more likely it is able to penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream, circulating to different organs, causing inflammation.
Buildings sealed too tightly can lead to the buildup of indoor pollutants like carbon dioxide. “Humans typically exhale about 40,000 parts per million,” says Hal Levin of the Building Ecology Research Group. About 30 percent, or 1.4 million buildings have indoor air quality problems, posing an important occupational exposure consideration for millions of workers, according to OSHA.
Under the WELL Building Standard, carbon dioxide levels must remain below 900 parts per million for certification. One example of unsafe carbon dioxide concentrations contributing to poor indoor air quality is illustrated by continuous air quality monitoring at Starbucks, where levels exceeded both the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and the WELL standard. And even though every Starbucks is LEED certified, not every LEED certification requires continuous real-time monitoring.
Indoor air quality monitoring is not only important for the health of its occupants but also for the health of the building. For instance, 13 percent of indoor air quality hazards come from unidentified sources in a building, according to NIOSH. Indoor air quality monitoring can boost the health of the building environment by allowing spaces to be better equipped and flagging the need for properly functioning ventilation.
For example, a health-care organization was experiencing an overheating problem in its radiotherapy planning room that had an air conditioning system with a dedicated variable air volume (VAV) unit serving the room. The organization suspected it might have to replace the air conditioning system. But a site inspection confirmed the room was too warm. After two days of monitoring, consultants discovered that the carbon dioxide level was swinging wildly. With this new information, the original system design was reviewed, which indicated that the unit should be more than capable of providing enough fresh air to control the build-up of carbon.
The client’s facility management department was provided with the new air quality data. They sent in a technician, who found a broken drive linkage on the VAV box and fixed it. A change in the room conditions occurred within 10 minutes. The room is comfortable and safe and the client didn’t have to spend $50,000 on a new air-conditioning system.
Formaldehyde is a type of volatile organic compound. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies it as carcinogenic to humans, the EPA lists it as a hazardous pollutant, and California calls it a toxic air contaminant. Besides causing respiratory symptoms, recent studies link exposure of formaldehyde at sufficient concentrations with low birth weight and other health problems.
Urea formaldehyde foam insulation, a thermal insulation product used in the 1970s and 1980s, was installed in hundreds of thousands of homes in the U.S. and Canada. The insulation was later found in some circumstances to emit high levels of formaldehyde. Canada spent millions of dollars insulating 80,000 to 100,000 homes, then spent many more millions uninstalling it when reports of problems emerged. Canada banned the product, as did the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission in 1982—though the U.S. ban was reversed a year later.
The food industry continued to use formaldehyde for preserving dried foods, disinfecting containers, preserving fish and certain oils and fats, and modifying starch. Formaldehyde was found in Federal Emergency Management Agency temporary housing trailers and in Lumber Liquidators Flooring.
Today, the use of everyday petroleum-based household products emit volatile organic compounds at levels comparable to what comes out of a car tailpipe, according to a study by Brian McDonald with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Formaldehyde also is used as an antimicrobial agent in cosmetic products, soaps, shampoos, hair preparations, deodorants, lotions, makeup, mouthwashes, and nail products. Some cosmetics have reportedly contained as much as 0.6 percent formaldehyde. Other products that contain formaldehyde include pressed wood, fiberglass, decorative laminates, paper goods, paints, and wallpaper.
With new studies emerging about the implications on health related to poor indoor air quality, there is a growing public demand for maintaining higher standards for the most shared global and public resource—indoor air quality—which will help individuals and businesses identify problems with their environments.
Historically, the intricate design of conventional systems contributed to high production costs of indoor monitors based on cost per unit. Unlike stand-alone systems, hybrid solutions facilitate the design and development of low-cost devices. With the advent of the internet, all devices are by definition connected to the cloud, opening up a new avenue for access to data.
In addition, cloud services create a bridge between people and machines, through the collection of enormous amounts of data from “things,” also known as sensors, machines, and devices, by way of the cloud, where data is stored.
A cloud-based solution with deployment of web-enabled devices also eliminates the oncecostly installation, configuration, and calibration associated with conventional technologies. For the first time, companies have an opportunity to collect quantitative data on multiple indoor air quality measurements simultaneously. But even with such advancements, few sensors produce reliable enough data to be used in studies or by government agencies.
Compared to static monitoring, continuous monitoring enhances high temporal-spatial resolution and the ability to assess the variability of air pollution, which thus far has been a challenge. These characteristics, the level of accuracy, and the precision of the measurements are the distinguishing characteristics of indoor air quality monitors on the market that result in better and safer environments.
Today, the means for large-scale and rapid deployment of tens of thousands of indoor air quality monitoring devices has the potential to bridge the information gap. This would result in better understanding, more thorough assessment of contaminant exposure, heightened awareness of health risks, and a complete picture of the data to guide harm reduction. Julie Spitkovsky is the communications and development director for Airthinx, Inc. The opinions expressed here do not represent those of Bloomberg Environment, which welcomes other points of view.
Julie Spitkovsky is the communications and development director for Airthinx, Inc.
The opinions expressed here do not represent those of Bloomberg Environment, which welcomes other points of view.
How much time do you spend indoors? If you’re like me, it’s far more than it should be. Today, modern smartphones and even computer monitors are filtering out certain light spectrums (like blue light), as studies have found them to be disruptive to sleep, concentration, and even longterm vision. But do you ever think about air quality, and what you’re breathing in?
How bad is your air quality? It’s not something I ever paid much attention to, because… what could you really do about it?
If you suspect your air quality is poor, you can always invest in air filtration, for which there is quite a market, but how do you know what you need to buy?
Some filtration systems are better suited for one type of pollutant, others are better suited for another, and some are more general purpose. Without knowing what your pollutants are, where do you start? Good air purifiers (aside from the gimmicks you see with the “As Seen On TV” badge) can be quite expensive.
If you decide to plunk down your hard-earned money on an air purifier, you’ll likely need to investigate what you need to clean first. Before I get too far in the article, here is a link you can follow if you want to learn more about what the US EPA has designated as indoor air pollutants.
Today we look at an air quality monitor from Airthinx. The Airthinx is really at the top end of the spectrum as far as price goes for the average consumer, however the Airthinx isn’t just your standard app-enabled Wi-Fi only air sniffer
The Airthinx has an integrated sensor array that measures the following:
PM1 – These are extremely fine particulate matter (PM) particles with a diameter less than 1 micron (a micron is a thousandth of a millimeter, a human red blood cell is about 5 microns across. A human hair is about 75 microns across.)
PM 2.5 – Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) that has a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair.
PM 10 – Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter, and can include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles on roads, to name a few.
CH2O – Formaldehyde – yes, that. Not only is this used for preserving those creepy Biology lessons in school, formaldehyde is also commonly found in any type of textile like carpets and rugs, but also paints, cleaning agents, and even wood flooring.
TVOC – This refers to the total concentration of multiple airborne VOCs present simultaneously in the air. A VOC is a Volatile Organic Compound, and it refers to any one of thousands of organic (carbon-containing) chemicals that are present mostly as gases at room temperature. Here is a link for more info.
CO2 – Carbon dioxide is what we expel when we breathe. The less CO2 you have in your house, (generally) the better, as too much CO2 can cause you to get drowsy, have headaches, and induce nausea.
The Airthinx has temperature and humidity sensors, as well as a barometer. There are also many different connectivity methods, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRA, NB-IoT.
The air quality monitor comes with an internal 3G SIM for cellular connectivity (w/ unlimited data) where you might not have Wi-Fi, as well as free cloud monitoring and data collection for the life of the product.
The Airthinx has a contemporary style; very neutral, with superb fit and finish. The main color is white, with an LED strip at the top, and chrome across the top and side.
The unit can be wall-mounted if you like, and even comes with a level built into the mount to ensure the device will be level.
Airthinx is powered via micro USB, which can be connected either from the bottom, or the back, which gives you flexibility with your installation and cable management.
When your unit arrives, you can schedule (at no charge) a personalized user interface walkthrough with an engineer from the Airthinx team that will show you how to get things set up, how to use the web and app interface, as well as answer any questions you might have.
The web UI gives you a lot of insight to what is going on with your air quality. You can look at historical data, going as far back as the day you activated your device.
You can create widgets and place them on the dashboard; this is an example of what I consider to be the most important readings over time (that I chose). These will be the first thing I see when I login to the web UI, which is fully customizable (you can resize windows, rearrange them, and so on.)
If you have multiple units, you can manage them all from this single pane of glass. When you log in, you can just select your device, and you’re off to the races.
You can also set up alerts, for example – if anything that is measured crosses any threshold you specify, you will get an alert. In this example, I set the alert to let me know if my indoor air temperature crossed above 75 degrees F:
You can choose to store all of your data on the Airthinx cloud, download it in PDF form with graphs, or you can choose to export it to a CSV file, which is very handy for property managers or even home users that love archival data.
There is also API integration if you want to customize things even further. Airthinx informed us that this works very well with Nest thermostats. For example, if a certain pollutant reached a threshold you didn’t like, you could have an air filter come on and run until that pollutant dropped back to the range you specified.
The mobile app is very well made. I used it only on iOS, but my results were great – I never had the app crash or had an issue of any kind. This app is a much simpler version of the Web UI; you get the same data and detail.
At a quick glance, you get a view of your air quality, and can look at individual pollutants. From the mobile app you can quickly pair your Nest thermostat without any API knowledge at all.
On the whole, the Airthinx is priced far ahead of most other air quality monitors on the market. It’s currently priced at $699, or $49 a month (with a 24 month contract) for the standard package. An enterprise package is also offered, which includes a higher tier of support, volume discounts, consulting, and customization with the product itself and custom APIs.
For the average home consumer, this device is probably priced too high to win hearts, and I would have to agree. However, with the level of functionality and how diverse this item is, its features are far beyond anything I’ve seen for home air quality monitors.
This device really isn’t aimed at the regular ‘smart home’ consumer who thinks it’s cool to tell Alexa to turn on a light, but rather a power user who loves to tinker and archive data, identify patterns, etc… or the consumer who is really taking their air quality seriously and wants to be able to use real data to identify patterns, and make corrections to their environment and see in real-time if the improvements they are making will bear fruit.
One other market this is aimed at, of course, is property management. Someone who has multiple sites to manage could greatly benefit from this solution. Being able to collect data and present this data to others when better air filtration is needed would be great, especially if employees are complaining about allergens in their area of the office. Alerts in real-time if a unit is sensing high temperatures, or a sudden spike in humidity? If I had properties to manage, data like this would be invaluable.
Vasileios Nasis is convinced the IoT platform his firm Netronix developed will be as crucial to the Internet of Things as Microsoft has been for the personal computer. And Nasis - CEO of Netronix – says AirThinx proves it.
Netronix CEO, Vasileios Nasis
Less than a year after officially launching, the “showcase” company is profitable, Nasis said, and its professional-grade, connected air quality monitoring device and corresponding software is used in the homes and businesses of top Silicon Valley executives.
The story behind West Philadelphia-based Netronix begins with a desire to prove out how much product development can benefit from its IoT platform — hardware and software that enables companies to easily add remote monitoring capabilities to any device
“We take the complexity out of the equation. We believe now with this platform, we’re going to spark innovation beyond Silicon Valley,” said Nasis, a former electrical engineering professor at Drexel University. “[Netronix] is not a Silicon Valley company. It’s a Philadelphia company, yet people in Silicon Valley are using it, and beyond.”
Netronix is based out of the Pennovation Works campus and also has an office in southern California.
Nasis created Netronix Ventures to incubate companies building around its platform, and went looking for some already monitoring indoor air quality. When no such company surfaced, he said, Netronix created it with about $100,000 in investment.
Netronix tapped experts in industrial hygiene that understand the importance of air quality and how, for example, a tiny change in barometric pressure can indicate a clean room has been compromised.
The company leader said AirThinx takes that high-level, professional-grade accuracy and embeds it in a device that appeals to the business and consumer markets.
It measures particles as small as 1 to 10 microns, which is smaller than other competitors and is important in protecting respiratory health, since smaller particles are more likely to move through the lungs and into the bloodstream. (The diameter of a human hair is about 50 microns.) AirThinx specifically measures volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, temperature, pressure and humidity.
At $699 to buy a device, or $49.99 a month lease, Nasis said the company is focused on customers that see a value in air quality, as well as companies willing to cover the costs of a device if, for example, it can help improve a patient’s health. The company positions AirThinx above a gadget but more accessible than professional equipment.
“In health and wellness, you care about what you eat [and] exercising, but you never thought of this new dimension called the air you breath,” he said. “All the other stuff, you see what you eat, you feel the exercise, but you don’t see the air you breath. That’s really the fundamental difference.”
Its connectivity options include Wi-Fi, Zibee, LoRa and 3G to ensure data is consistent. Nasis declined to name specific clients but noted they include major public corporations and Silicon Valley executives.
If it didn’t have the Netronix platform, Nasis said it would’ve taken $3 million in investment and two to three years of development to build AirThinx.
“From concept to reality, it cut down the cost of production and concept to market by over 80 percent,” he said.
His goal is bold — for Netronix to become the equivalent of what Microsoft is for the PC world – except in the IoT space.
He’s also just as ambitious about the companies he thinks can spin out of it. “We are planning to jump start 100 companies in the next decade. We want most, at the very least, to be in Philadelphia,” he said.